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A Mountain Lion Sighting Near Waterford?

Waterford Building Inspector Jay Murphy said he saw a mountain lion in East Lyme Tuesday night, but the DEEP has other thoughts.

Tuesday, Waterford Building Inspector Jay Murphy saw something that the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection claims does not exist, at least not here.

Murphy told Patch Thursday that he clearly saw a mountain lion at around 7 Tuesday night walk across Cedarbook Lane in East Lyme. He said he was sure it was a mountain lion from the shape and the long tail, which ensures it is not a bobcat, which has no tail. Murphy later found a paw print in the mud he believes is from the mountain lion.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was skeptical of Murphy’s sighting. DEEP spokesman Dwayne Gardner said the print is most likely from a canine and said there are no mountain lions in Connecticut.

“There has not been a native population in the state for quite some time and no verified sighting in over 100 years, with the exception of the one that was killed on the Merritt Parkway back in June 2011,” Gardner wrote to Patch in an email. “As you probably know, it was later determined that this mountain lion had made its way to Connecticut from South Dakota.”

Murphy said he is confident that what he saw was a mountain lion. Also, in 2011 and 2012, there were reported sightings in East Haddam.

Murphy’s Story

Murphy lives on Cedarbook Lane in East Lyme. At around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, his dog started barking feverishly and tried to run through its electric fence around the home, he said.

Murphy went outside and he said he saw two yellowish-green eyes. He said he then clearly saw, thanks to a streetlight, a mountain lion cross Cedarbook Lane and take off into the woods.

Murphy described the mountain lion as about five or six feet long, including the tail, and about three feet tall. He went out the next day and found what he believes is a mountain lion print, as he estimated the print from the animal’s pad alone was about 3 ½ inches.

DEEP’s Take

Meanwhile, Gardner was skeptical. Gardner said he had a wildlife biologist look at the footprint Murphy found and said it was most likely from a canine.

Gardner said said the DEEP used DNA evidence to conclude that the mountain lion killed in 2011 by a car in Connecticut was from South Dakota and no other mountain lions have been spotted in Connecticut in at least a century. In fact, in March of 2011, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared the eastern cougar extinct, he said.

“We are always willing to examine any evidence that someone might have of a mountain lion,” Gardner wrote in an email to Patch. “But in the absence of verifiable evidence (confirmed photographs, samples of scat, etc) we continue to believe that there is no breeding populations of mountain lions in Connecticut.”

About Mountain Lions

According to National Geographic, mountain lions are predators that live mostly in the western part of North America and throughout South America. They are solitary animals that prey on animals like deer, coyotes and raccoons, according to National Geographic.

Mountain lions are considered endangered after they were overhunted in the 1800s, according to National Geographic. Statistics show there are usually four reports a year of a mountain lion attacking a human in the United States and Canada, with an average of one fatality per year, according to National Geographic.

Nancy J. Atkinson February 03, 2013 at 03:40 PM
A few years ago, my son and I saw a mountain lion in Pomfret ( where we were living) it had a rabbit in its mouth. And there is not a doubt in our minds. We weren't far from it, when it ran in opposite direction, he turned the Jeep around and got to view it a second time! We were on our way home and went on line just to make sure we weren't crazy! Exactly what we saw, a truly beautiful Mountain Lion! Outstanding.
Daniella Ruiz February 03, 2013 at 07:22 PM
the DEEP may not be saying there aren't any at all, but the 'unqualified' sightings seem to imply they are 'lone cats', rather than enough to start littering the countryside with a few extras.. then of course, DEEP people being the animals lovers they are, may be trying to keep people from hunting them, as some 'big white hunters' like to do for fun and sport. the numerous automobiles would do a pretty good job of culling the ones that cross their path here, unlike the wide open spaces further to our west.
Axel Foley March 21, 2013 at 03:14 PM
I saw one, but it was in Divide, Colorado - not popped collar loving CT.
Pam March 22, 2013 at 03:46 PM
This article was published on the same day of this article with GREAT pictures of a Mountain Lion. I am confused why DEEP will not acknowledge the DO exist in CT. I have seen them myself Bobcat or Mountain Lion? Montville Patch Facebook page is all abuzz! This amazing photo from Bob Bedard, taken on Feb. 1 at 8:15 a.m. in his backyard -- the Comstock Avenue and Route 32 neighborhood behind Montville Funeral Home -- shows a large cat he described as being 3 feet tall while on all fours. Mountain Lions are bigger then Bobcats and have longer tails. Some have said the photo appears to show a longish tail. Patch reached out to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to get an ID and information on keeping us, and the cat, safe. We emailed Dwayne Gardner, DEEP spokesman who forwarded the Bedard's images to wildlife biologist Paul Rego, the division's wildlife expert. "Bobcat, no question," he said after reviewing the photos. He could tell by the tail length, cheek ruffs and spotting on the underbelly. (I didn't notice!) Rego said he couldn't comment on size since there is no scale reference in the photo, but indicated that bobcats are generally in the 2-plus foot range in height and can weight 40 pounds. He said the cats, Lynx rufus in Latin, will only occasionally attack domestic or family pets. But chickens, that's another story. Bobcats eat rabbits, squirrels, birds, and, Rego said, the occasional deer. Yikes!
Pam March 22, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Erna I agree fully. Take a look at montvillepatch and the same day as this article a man had pictures of the mountain lion and spoke with DEEP who confirmed that it was in fact a Mountain lion.

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