Big Cats

The news that a 140-pound mountain lion was killed by an SUV on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford on Saturday brought this email from alert “06880” reader Adam Stolpen:

I told Earthplace we had this issue, but they said Connecticut has no mountain lions.

The mountain lion killed in Connecticut. (Photo/Greenwich Time)

Now there have been credible sightings in Greenwich, along with the one killed in Milford and one upstate last year.  They seem to be moving along, using the land abutting the Merritt Parkway as a cruise way.

The sighting in a yard near the ballfield off Route 7 in Wilton/Georgetown is equally alarming.

I saw prints in the freshly fallen snow going from the area of the Merritt across my lawn in the direction of the pond behind my house in the winter of 2009-10.  I downloaded images online of actual cougar paw prints.

I measured what was in the snow, and compared them to the online images.  They were a dead-on match.

I never bothered to photograph them after I asked Earthplace to come look at them, and they refused.

If you recall, a coyote jumped out, snatched and ran off with a small dog that it ate off Red Coat Road a few years back.  Interestingly, I have noticed a falloff in coyotes around here lately, coinciding with the “alleged” presence of the mountain lion(s).

The issue is why, in the face of hard evidence, both Earthplace and the state refuse to acknowledge the existence of big cats in the area.  I am not crying wolf (or mountain lion, for that matter), but it would be wise to remember that forewarned is forearmed.  People need to exercise appropriate caution.

32 responses to “Big Cats

  1. Wow! Maybe this could be the answer to our deer problem.

  2. The abundence of deer in Westport and the surrounding county needs the mountain lion to check the population. When I spend time back in westport I can easily see that the deer population is out of control. The Mountain lion is a natural preditor of these inflated deer populations. All the tree hugers freak out about them being hunted, but what about the poor mountain lion just looking to feed his/her kids!? Yes it does pose the problem of human to lion contact, but this is natures way, need we meddle? If they exist here now then they must have been here a couple hundred years ago. These mointain lion are not invasive species they are simply repatriating an area they once were decimated in.

  3. I live in Weston on the Georgetown line. This winter, my neighbor photographed a mountain lion-type creature on our road. The photo ran in The Weston Forum.

  4. Awesome comments! I’ll be leaving large chunks of meat in my backyard nightly from now on and am looking forward to being able to plant hostas again soon

  5. 140 pounds! Yeeks. Thanks, Adam for making my evening run alittle more special. Doesn’t a mountain lion know we are at sea level???

  6. Wow – that’s a big cat. I guess that’s what happens when we encroach on available living spaces for them and the deer. you call deer a problem because they eat your precious plants – don’t complain, put up a fence. They are obviously suffering because of the ridiculousness of overbuilding in a once beautiful town. One tasteless mcmansion after the next. The town has lost the exact feeling that drew people to it in the first place. When I come visit and see what’s living there now, all I can say is eww. Between the horn honking and the rudeness in the shops – I don’t know how any old westporters can stand it. Anyway, shame about the mountain lion.

    • an interested reader

      So much for the quaint New England fishing village by the seashore description Westport used to live up to. Too bad. It was an idyllic place with charming cottages and homes and all sorts of wonderful people. Westport used to be an incredible place. I can’t believe the tear down stories I read about the town these days. Does everyone have to have such a huge house these days?

      • Whining about teardowns is becoming a favorite indoor sport in Westport followed closely by pining for the good old days. At one point in the past I am sure people whined about the town’s acquisition of the Longshore facility as they too resisted change. Personally, I hope every one has a bigger house than mine, and pays the requisite taxes.

        • Sam, not “whining” about the tear downs and not stuck in the ” good old days” but open your eyes and look around. The new building for the most part is just gross. It has basically has changed the tone of the town – simple as that. I’m not clinging to the past, just pointing out the fact that the people who have come into town knocking down old beautiful homes with pedestrian, ugly cookie cutter McMansions have destroyed a once quaint friendly and lovely town. If you enjoy the shallow oh and think that them paying taxes is a good exchange for that, then enjoy. You deserve it!

          • “…ugly cookie cutter McMansions..” Not too judgemental are we? My idea of an ugly house is a 1961 splt level, but I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. In addition, I prefer that people be able to make their own choices (mistakes?) with respect to the type of house they choose to build.

          • The Dude Abides

            When was Westport a “quaint New England fishing village by the seashore”???????
            Maybe in the 1800’s but not since 1953 when I have been associated with the town. It was farmland mostly before that and has transformed in all aspects to surburban life. What do you think they Wakemans thought about building the monstrous 60’s split levels????? Economics dicate the size of house for the builders and apparently there is a demand for they continue to build them today. You ever been inside the new “gross” construction??? Most of them are pretty special compared with the tiny roomed post WWII homes.

        • an interested reader

          Nobody’s whining. Good grief. It’s simply one person’s observation. People are allowed to observe and share their opinions. The quaint description was once how Westport was described in writing on a site of people searching Westport, CT. Not everyone needs to live in a 7 or 8 bedroom house to be perfectly happy, believe it or not, some people live to suit themselves, not their neighbors.

          • You make the assumption that people who live in the large houses you dislike, live to suit others. Maybe, maybe not.

          • B.S. Those truly independent live in Idaho and have long ago left the rat race of this area of the country. Corpoate clones here now.

  7. The Dude Abides

    I agree on the overdevelopment. We displaced a whole lot of animals. We got woodchucks all about but I won’t trap them. Damn deer eat the bird feed after getting
    through the deer fence. They are hungry. Economy keeps tanking, we might have some homeless folks nibbling on the peanuts we throw out for the squirrels. As to the traffiic and rudeness, welcome to the 21st century. 300 million and counting. Another 100 million by 2050. Mack’s makes great ear plugs.

  8. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the eastern cougar extinct in May of this year. Then one (or two?) show up in Fairfield County. I think this is far from coincidental. I think these animals were somehow released from captivity. An eco-prank? The Fairfield County version of alligators in the sewers? I am very suspicious.

  9. It would appear that you don’t have to worry about the one in the picture. Do you think it is a conspiracy by the government to promulgate the cougar from extinction??? Maybe they are breeding them in Bethel??? Transported from Kenya with Obama to combat the Grizzly Mamas???

  10. I think this poor Kitteh either escaped from it’s owner or was released.

  11. And what are appropriate precautions with mountain lions? My understanding is by the time you see one it’s too late. I’ve also heard its only sick or feeble lions that would attack a human.

  12. The experts say don’t move and never look them in the eyes, quietely singing “Maria” to the heavens.

  13. You have nothing to worry about if you can run faster than the guy next to you.

  14. Am I the only one who likes having wildlife around? Hawks and foxes and black bears and pumas. Here Kitty Kitty…

  15. I had a Mt lion problem while living in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, the good news, they leave as quickly as they come. I was more concerned about the resident rattlers and scorpions, than a lone traveling mountain lion.

    Here “Experts” still say there are two breeding pairs of Falcons in CT when I know there are more in Westport alone.

    If you see a lion: face it and make loud clapping sounds & wave your hands to appear larger than you are.

    Don’t feed your dogs or cats outside, and of course, don’t leave them out on their own. It’s like dinner on a leash.

    Spill a little Ammonia on your garbage pails, that will keep raccoons, coyotes, bears or anything else from investigating further.

  16. Cheryl Scott-Daniels sent this along:

    As you know, I served on the Earthplace board of trustees for many years so I went immediately to my own respected “authority”, Dr. John Horkel to ask about big cats. His response is below. I asked him for permission to share with you and he had no problems with my forwarding his response:

    These big cats were popular pets some years ago – and I believe you can still have them as pets in NY with the proper license – but this is illegal in CT.

    It would not surprise me if some people have do have them in CT as “exotic pets” – gotten through unscrupulous pet dealers or brought in by the animal owners themselves.

    Nor would it surprise me if someone let their “pet” go having tired of it – or finding the long-term care of the animal more and more problematic.

    And although they were extirpated from and declared “extinct” in CT many years ago – I could see how a few may have continued to survive in the more remote and rugged areas of the state. And are now being seen as more development occurs and people move into these areas – like the experiences that are occurring out West.

    We have bears and moose around now – as wildlife (like us) are always on the move.
    – John

    • Didn’t famed race car driver Ricky Bobby’s daddy keep a pet cougar to help him teach his son to re-learn driving? Yes, Karen the Cougar. Method seemed to work.

  17. Richard Lawrence Stein

    I hate to see the litter box for a cat this size…

  18. The Dude Abides

    Indeed, Ricky Bobby of “Talladega Nights” did have a pet cougar, named “Karen.” Perhaps if the dead beast protrayed here has a few siblings, we might teach Connecticut drivers not to drive while using a cell phone.

  19. Dude, it was Reese Bobby, Ricky’s father, who had the cat. Celebrate him on Sunday, it’s Father’s Day!

  20. The Dude Abides

    Yes’em, I must be wearning orthopedic shoes, for I stand corrected. My particular favorite was Lucy Bobby. Could use a little of her parenting skills with the young rascals hereabouts nowadays. Reese Bobby was played by Gary Cole, Papa Brady II.