Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Weary of hoaxes, DEC refutes cougar reports

Albany – DEC officials have long disputed claims that mountain
lions are roaming the Empire State.

Now, the department has taken the unique step of refuting
Internet reports that a mountain lion was killed in New York.

Apparently weary of the regular reports that cougars have been
seen or killed at various locations in the state, DEC last month
issues a press release refuting claims that a photo of a mountain
lion – purportedly killed at various spots in New York – is
accurate.

The photo shows a mountain lion in the back of a pickup truck,
and appears to have been taken by a hunter out West. But Internet
reports have contended the cat was killed anywhere between Erie
County and the Adirondacks.

“The message claims that a mountain lion… was recently hit by a
vehicle in the Black Brook (Clinton County) area. The message also
claims that environmental conservation officers, forest rangers, or
game wardens, responded to this incident,” DEC said in its
statement. “The hoax message received by many these past few days
regarding cougars is inaccurate and is not valid.”

Officials said the photo first surfaced last December amid
claims the mountain lion was killed in Erie County in western New
York. “Since then, the false reports have moved across the state
claiming the dead mountain lion was found in various locales and
now has arrived in northern New York,” DEC’s statement read.

This false message “joins a host of previous hoaxes regarding
mountain lions in New York,” officials added.

In dispelling the most recent report, DEC noted that:

€ Some messages claim that the cougar was hit on Savage Road,
but there is no such road in Black Brook or in most of the other
locations in which it has been reported. Also, no vehicle
collisions involving a mountain lion have been reported to DEC “in
Black Brook or any other locations in New York state.”

€ the message claims that DEC_personnel responded to the
incident. “This is not true. No DEC officials responded to a
cougar-car collision… because there was not one that
occurred,”_DEC’s statement read.

€_like so many of the hoax cougar photographs circulated before
the recent e-mail, this photo “conveniently lacks defining features
indicative of location. For instance, it conveniently covers the
truck’s license plate and lacks background landscape that would
indicate region. The dog crates shown in the back of the pickup
truck are popularly used to transport hunting dogs. It is much more
likely that this photo is a hunter’s photo taken somewhere out
West.”

€ the identical photo has been sent in other areas of the
country and state, claiming alternative local locations and
explanations of the incident. The same photo has been circulated in
Pennsylvania.

Rumors, as well as Internet, e-mail and photo hoaxes regarding
mountain lions are common. To see some of the more popular e-mail
hoaxes, go online to www.dec.ny.gov/animals/44564.html

Another common myth is that DEC releases cougars as an attempt
to control wildlife populations. “This is simply not true. DEC
never has released cougars,”_officials said in their statement.
“While there is always the possibility of escaped or released
captive cougar, it is important to know that there is no wild
population of cougars in New York.”

Anyone who feels they have legitimate evidence suggesting a
valid sighting should contact DEC at (518) 897-1291.

The Eastern cougar, or mountain lion has been extirpated in New
York since the late 1800s. There are a few kept in captivity under
a special permit, and likely illegally as well, officials said. In
at least two cases in past years, captive cougars did make it to
the wild; neither survived for long.

“To date, no hard evidence has been produced that would prove
the existence of cougars living and reproducing in the wild in New
York,” DEC’s statement read. “Contrast that with areas with known
cougar populations, where signs are relatively easy to find. For
instance, there is an estimated cougar population of 200 cougars in
the Black Hills of South Dakota. In 2006, South Dakota officials
documented 56 cougar carcasses, and 67 carcasses in 2007. No wild
cougar carcasses have been documented in New York since 1894.”

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