Building Inspector Jay Murphy saw an animal this week that state officials claim don't exist in Connecticut: A mountain lion.
Murphy told Patch Thursday that he clearly saw the big cat around 7 p.m., 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 differs from the smaller animal, the bobcat, which has no tail. Murphy later found a paw print in the mud he believes is from the mountain lion.
There have been other mountain lion sightings in the state, including one in nd there was even a dead mountain lion found in Greenwich. Despite those sightings, the state's DEEP remains skeptical that these animals are afoot in the state.
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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 ” 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 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.
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.