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Cougar sightings rattle Virginia area residents 9/23/08

 
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Cougardaville
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:35 pm    Post subject: Cougar sightings rattle Virginia area residents 9/23/08 Reply with quote

Cougar sightings rattle Virginia area residents
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September 23, 2008

The Associated Press
BLACKSTONE, Virginia -- Like some other residents of the small town of Blackstone, Virginia, Mary Elizabeth Goodwyn doesn't go outside after dark much anymore.

Goodwyn, 81, used to welcome the dusk under a red maple tree in her front yard every evening, but that was before cougars started showing up in Blackstone -- at least in the local newspaper.



Billy Coleburn, Blackstone Mayor and publisher of the Courier Herald, holds a copy of his paper displaying a photo of a stuffed cougar in his office in Blackstone, Va., on Aug. 15. The Courier-Record has run at least 15 stories on cougar sightings in the town limits.

Since 2003, the Courier-Record has run at least 15 stories on cougar sightings in town and in the neighboring 41,000-acre Army National Guard training base.

Wildlife officials say that except for a known population of 100 in Florida, the large cats -- also called mountain lions, pumas, panthers and "ghost cats" -- were wiped out in the eastern United States by 1900. They claim sightings most likely are cases of mistaken identity.

"The sense I get is there are a number of game commission people laughing, and that bothers me a bit because we've got good people here who aren't crazy," said Billy Coleburn, who, as editor of the paper, wrote most of the stories.

As mayor of the town of 3,700, he must also figure out a way to calm residents' fears.

Since 1900, only 64 cougar sightings have been confirmed in the eastern United States outside of Florida, despite tens of thousands of reported sightings, said Mark McCollough, an endangered species biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who is leading a review of the eastern cougar.

'Mountain lion mania'
"People see an animal run quickly across the road in front of them at night in their headlights, and they might jump to the conclusion it's a cougar, but a number of those reports are inaccurate," McCollough said.
Mark Dowling, co-founder of The Cougar Network, a research organization, calls it "mountain lion mania," when one sighting spawns others.

It is easy to misjudge an animal's size from a distance, Dowling said. His organization often gets photos of house cats from people who believe they are seeing cougars.

Dowling and other experts say the stragglers that do turn up are former pets. Experts estimate there are at least 1,000 captive cougars in the East, although many states have outlawed having a cougar as a pet.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife review, due this winter, is expected to put to rest the question on whether mountain lions still roam eastern forests. If it finds the eastern cougar is extinct, it will be removed from the list of endangered species. If not, a plan could be put in place to manage the cougars that are here and possibly bring others in.

Those in favor of reintroducing cougars say it is a way to restore some of the natural balance to the ecosystem. The cougar's favorite meal is deer, which cause an estimated 1.5 million auto accidents and 150 deaths annually because of overpopulation.

McCollough said while the natural habitat is well-suited, the fears of easterners accustomed to life without the world's fourth-largest cats might be the bigger impediment to reintroduction.

Officials estimate there are as many as 35,000 mountain lions in the western U.S, and some are inching eastward.

A cougar kitten was hit by a truck in Kentucky in 1997, one cougar was killed and another captured in West Virginia in 1976.

Earlier this year, police killed a cougar in Chicago that was traced through Wisconsin from South Dakota. Sightings have been confirmed in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and down to Arkansas and Louisiana.

But experts say those are isolated incidents.

Not caught on camera
Hundreds of motion-activated cameras dot forests throughout the East, from Great Smoky Mountain National Park to an ongoing study along 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The results: hundreds of photos of bears, deer and other critters, but no cougars.
"I don't want to come out and say that everybody who says they've seen a mountain lion is a crackpot or mistaken, but if the cats were there, I believe we would be confirming them" more through roadkill, trail cameras or other means, said Jay Tischendorf, president of the nonprofit Eastern Cougar Foundation.

Blackstone recently set up a handful of cameras in the woods with the hope of getting proof, and the town's lone animal control officer's hours were pushed back to patrol for the nocturnal cat.

Earlier this month, town officials made a cast of what they believed was a cougar track and sent it to state biologists.

The determination: inconclusive.

Sue Cobbs doesn't need proof. She knows what she saw twice near her Blackstone home. In June, a big brown cat with a long tail chased a deer through her back yard. A month later, she saw one outside her neighbor's house.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Cougar sightings rattle Virginia area residents 9/23/08 Reply with quote

[quote="]The U.S. Fish and Wildlife review, due this winter, is expected to put to rest the question on whether mountain lions still roam eastern forests. If it finds the eastern cougar is extinct, it will be removed from the list of endangered species. If not, a plan could be put in place to manage the cougars that are here and possibly bring others in.

Those in favor of reintroducing cougars say it is a way to restore some of the natural balance to the ecosystem. The cougar's favorite meal is deer, which cause an estimated 1.5 million auto accidents and 150 deaths annually because of overpopulation.

McCollough said while the natural habitat is well-suited, the fears of easterners accustomed to life without the world's fourth-largest cats might be the bigger impediment to reintroduction.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Cougar sightings rattle Virginia area residents 9/23/08 Reply with quote

Cougardaville wrote:
[quote="]The U.S. Fish and Wildlife review, due this winter, is expected to put to rest the question on whether mountain lions still roam eastern forests. If it finds the eastern cougar is extinct, it will be removed from the list of endangered species. If not, a plan could be put in place to manage the cougars that are here and possibly bring others in.

Those in favor of reintroducing cougars say it is a way to restore some of the natural balance to the ecosystem. The cougar's favorite meal is deer, which cause an estimated 1.5 million auto accidents and 150 deaths annually because of overpopulation.

McCollough said while the natural habitat is well-suited, the fears of easterners accustomed to life without the world's fourth-largest cats might be the bigger impediment to reintroduction.

b]Mark Mccullough is the man we have been communicating with about the Eastern study. He has given us a dozen excuses why he has not released the results of the review Rolling Eyes . Now reading this twist that they may DE-list the cat, BUT...are thinking about introducing cougars is a baby step to opening the door Arrow They are trying this out on our ears Idea They are testing what feed back they will get from statements like this one Idea . This is major news for our environment. Also note, now it is about reducing the deer population because of car accidents and cost of insurance. How many people have asked this question through the years (Question) Are cougars (mountain lions )being introduced to our Eastern states to reduce the deer herd sponsored by automobile insurance companies Question Question

Something smells bad here Evil or Very Mad


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How many people have asked this question through the years (Question) Are cougars (mountain lions )being introduced to our Eastern states to reduce the deer herd sponsored by automobile insurance companies

Old, ridiculous conspiracy theory. I've heard at least 6 variations involving coyotes, turkeys, and cougars for over thirty years. Take the reasonable approach in today's lawsuit happy society. Do you really think NY is going to allow the reintroduction of a large, dangerous carnivore? One attack, and NY might never recover from the lawsuits.
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bbones
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't speak for NY state but that is exactly what they did in NJ.

I know this because it was in the newspaper.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL Laughing Laughing
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