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COLD SPRING In the hills above this Hudson Valley village

 
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:35 pm    Post subject: COLD SPRING In the hills above this Hudson Valley village Reply with quote

http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/2014/08/11/cold-spring-cougar-sighting/13902823/

August 11, 2014

COLD SPRING In the hills above this Hudson Valley village roams a cat. A really, really big cat. Or something.

A spate of sightings in recent days has residents filling a local Facebook page with thoughts, questions and concerns about what has been described as a mountain lion prowling the woods of Philipstown.

Sheila Claffey said she saw a large, tan cat with a long tail walking along the edge of her back yard last Thursday morning. She estimated its height to be about that of a small deer. Her family is used to seeing coyotes and foxes slinking around their property on Hustis Road, just north of Cold Spring, she said. This creature was different.

"As soon as it saw me, it ran," she said. "I'm just nervous because I have two small dogs. It makes me a little more cautious when I let them out."

Two days later, on Saturday, Ru Rauch (full disclosure: this reporter's father) saw an animal matching the description given by Claffey stroll across the lawn of his Lane Gate Road home.

"It was as tall as a Labrador and longer by another foot, not including the tail," Rauch said.
The animal, walking slowly at a distance of about 25 yards, was tawny in color and had no spots, he said. Its long tail curled gently behind it.

Rauch went outside to take a picture but the noise of the screen door opening spooked the cat. It trotted into the woods and disappeared.

"I went to the Internet to look up 'mountain lion' and saw exactly what I had just seen," he said.

A commenter on the Philipstown Locals Facebook page said her husband saw a similar animal later that day, just a few miles away on Fishkill Road.

So, was it a mountain lion? Despite occasional reports of sightings throughout the region in Purchase last year; in Sneden's Landing in Orangetown in 2009 and the mountain lion in Connecticut that was hit and killed by a car in 2011, the Department of Environmental Conservation says it's been many decades since New York was home to a breeding population of mountain lions (also known as cougars and catamounts).

"If we had a reproducing population, we would see roadkill," DEC regional spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach said Monday. "You would see scat. You would see prints. A hundred percent of the time, when people send in pictures, the paw prints turn out to be from a large dog."

The DEC has been officially skeptical of mountain lion sightings for years. Rosenbach said the agency doesn't have any mountain lion experts on staff, "because we don't have mountain lions in New York."

Still, she suggested the possibility of rogue mountain lions escaping from private owners. Rosenbach said the state requires owners of large animals, like, say, a cougar, to obtain a permit from the DEC. There are currently just three valid permits in the state, she said: one in Broome County; one in Nassau; and one in nearby Dutchess. No big cats are reported missing.

Of Rauch's sighting on Saturday, Rosenbach said, "He probably saw a bobcat."

Cold Spring resident Greg McCoy, doesn't buy that explanation. Two years ago, while driving home from work, he watched a mountain lion cross Route 301. Asked if there were any chance he could have mistaken what he saw for a bobcat, he said, "Not at all. You can tell."

Bobcats, according to the DEC's website, have tufted ears and short tails no more than six inches long. On average, males weigh 21 pounds while females weigh 14 pounds Mountain lions, by contrast, weigh 140 pounds on average. Their tail can stretch nearly three feet.

Residents who see what they think is a mountain lion should report their sighting to the DEC: 845-256-3098. Clear photos are always appreciated, though Rosenbach reminded people to keep a safe distance from all wild animals.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope someone is able to catch a photo that will confirm or disprove what everyone is seeing.
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