I’ve been writing about cougar encounters – and whether cougars can really exist in Pennsylvania – for more than 40 years, so it’s not uncommon for people to contact me for an article.
I recently heard an interesting one that ended up being like all the others. It may not have been a big cat, but maybe it was one. There’s no real evidence.
This time a woman from Lancaster sent me pictures of the camp she and her husband recently purchased near Hawesdale in Clearfield County.
The 9th. In January, there was still a lot of snow on the trails behind their house, so they took the four-wheel drive car and explored some of the less traveled trails. They came across very strange footprints and scattered. In addition to the photos, she took a sample of the rays with her in the hopes that someone would be able to analyze it for her.
I am convinced it was a mountain lion, she wrote. The tracks never seem to go back, so we think they were just passing through.
I sent their photos to a professor of ecology at Penn State and asked him what he thought. He wasn’t convincing.
It’s corn in the skate, so it’s not from a bobcat, a lynx or a cougar. The stingray’s shape is more like that of a bear, he wrote. The tracks are more like those of a large lynx. A stride length measurement doesn’t tell you much – 2 feet can be a fast trot.
The woman was skeptical of his assessment. I’m surprised he didn’t respond to the photo showing the tail being dragged everywhere with the animal. Lynxes don’t have long tails.
She also noted that the snowpack has increased. If there had been a bear, it would have left tracks in the snow, she replied. The only marks around the droppings were the same as the ones I sent the pictures of. And they look like a big cat to us.
She still thinks it was a cougar. …. I have trash in my freezer if anyone wants to check it out, she decided.
Я ? What am I thinking? I have no idea.
frequently asked questions
Are there any mountain lions left in Pennsylvania?
Mountain lion sightings have increased in Pennsylvania, but they have not been officially sighted in the state since 1871. Usually these people see bobcats, which are much smaller and can reach as many as 4,000 individuals.
What big cats live in Pennsylvania?
Biology. The lynx, also known as the bobcat, wildcat, bobcat and swamp tiger, is the state’s only feline predator. His scientific name is Lynx Rufus. The bobcat is loosely related to the Canada lynx, which is not found in Pennsylvania.
Are there big cats in Pennsylvania?
None of these sightings have been confirmed, and many, including an alleged cougar recently captured on a Lackawanna County surveillance camera, turned out to be bobcats. … There are about 4,000 of these 10- to 40-pound cats in the state.