DEC Dismissing Cougar Sightings

By Ray Feliciano

Several weeks ago, the mauled remains of Carol Wilber’s horse, Buddy, raised speculation that cougars may once again be inhabiting New York. However, despite the evidence, and multiple reports of cougar sightings in the area, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) continues to claim that the big cats are not prowling Albany or New York.

“To date, no hard evidence has been produced that would prove the existence of cougars living in the wild in New tracks, scat, dead cougars, photos, videos, or audio tapes…”

If confirmed living wild in
New York, cougars would have no natural enemies, other than humans, to keep them in check.
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The clean cut taken from the hind section of "Buddy" may be more indicative of a large cat than that of the tearing wounds common with coyotes or other large dogs.
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The distance between fang marks on this horse's neck appear to be too large to be a coyote. Also, if the horse was already dead when coyotes began to eat it, why would they bite the horse's neck if it was already down?

The cause of the 18 year old horse’s death was attributed to likely being caused by the horse being startled, possibly by coyotes, and then breaking it’s neck on a nearby tree. The mutilation was attributed to post-mortem feeding of coyotes.

However, some sources believe the fang marks on the neck, and the clean cut on the hindquarters of the horse are more indicative of an attack by a large cat than that of the tearing action more typical of coyotes and large dogs. In addition, if the wounds were post-mortem, why would they bite a dead horse’s neck?

Dozens of residents have reported sighting cougars in the area, and are convinced the big cats are back despite DEC’s assurances that cougars have not inhabited east of the Mississippi River since 1900.

There is mounting frustration that the DEC has not taken the reports of cougar sightings seriously. According to one concerned resident, “a lot of people who call don’t get satisfaction.” Those that call are often told that they must be mistaken, and have possibly seen a fisher or bobcat instead. The DEC has refused to investigate the matter further unless concrete proof of the cougars is obtained.

“Wildlife staff will only investigate reports where some evidence exists, other than a visual sighting, that a cougar was there, or when a captive animal is reported to have escaped.”

Collecting enough evidence to convince the DEC to investigate further has become a high priority to some residents. “If I were to go up to take care of our cattle, I would bring a rifle. It’s not safe.” Asked what response they would like to see from the DEC, they continued, “The first thing I want EnCon to do, is to acknowledge that they are there, and to alert the public of the danger.”

[Please call if you have evidence of a cougar: (518) 275-2114]