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Did Connecticut Cougar Not Really Walk From South Dakota?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 26th, 2011

There are rumors, no, serious leaks from wildlife officials who are beginning to speculate that the cougar recently killed in Connecticut might not be so easily explained as once thought.

One unnamed governmental source is reportedly telling friends and associates within a circle of cougar-involved researchers that the cougar’s tests have actually shown that only 67% of its DNA can be linked to a South Dakota origin. This raises serious questions about the what, why, and where of the initial source of this cougar. Could it be a native New England cougar, after all, that happens to merely share part of its DNA makeup with what is found among Dakota cats?  Is there the beginnings of a cover story being developed that the cougar was an escaped pet from a mixed breeding captive background?

Are we beginning to see the start of yet another version of the “it escaped from a circus train wreck” cover story?

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


12 Responses to “Did Connecticut Cougar Not Really Walk From South Dakota?”

  1. Redrose999 responds:

    Loren, I’m afraid you might have a point there. Truth, I think we have a population of cougars here. Heck, in lake George and the Adirondacks hunters claim they see them. My sister has been warned about them by park officials working the area when she hikes with her husband. They are here. Ok, so maybe some are escaped pets. Our Zoo, a small no longer around zoo, used to rescue exotic animals all the time, but I’m a firm believer that most of the animals seen around here came down from Canada (animals don’t give a whoot about borders), and that some actually escaped extinction by adapting to avoid humans.

    My husband is a black cat witness. He claims the thing was huge, I can’t judge there (I wasn’t there) but I know I was stalked by something with a huge paw print in the back woods near where I lived as a young woman. My dad’s been stalked walking as well. We have a local teacher that saw a cougar cross the road.

    Yeah, I smell a cover up. I hate conspiracy theories but dang, I’m beginning to think some one, the real estate industry or other (animal protection is expensive as well) is benefiting from cougars NOT existing on the east coast.

  2. stancourtney responds:

    We have been fighting the same information war for years here in Illinois. Our parents, grandparents, friends have been seeing these animals for years if not generations. It is not something new, there have always been reports.

    The western states admit that they have a resident breeding population and educate the public accordingly. So sad the the eastern states have decided to hide what is so obvious to those of us who spend a lot of times in the woods.

  3. arewethereyeti responds:

    Loren:

    Maybe I’m just feeling a bit cranky today, but… why couldn’t the Connecticut cougar be merely “an escaped pet from a mixed breeding captive background?”

    Until/unless researchers can identify the source of the other 1/3 of the cat’s genetic heritage, it is impossible to state with any certainty that it is(was) indigenous to the northeast.

    While the unknown portion of its DNA is intriguing – and its fun to speculate about “home-grown” scenarios – without a valid “local” specimen to compare it to, the CT DNR’s supposed origin-theory-in-the-making is, unfortunately, as good as the other. :(

    We can’t accuse the other side of assuming too much if we’re guilty of the same!

  4. flame821 responds:

    Really does this come as a surprise to anyone who read the original article?

    Cougars have lived in the Eastern States since before Columbus arrived and they will continue to live here. Nature is resilient and even if you exterminate the native population, overflow from other populations (like Canada) will seep in to fill the vacuum, breeding with any remaining population. Look at the large amount of deer, rabbits, squirrels and other prey animals that litter our roadsides, you don’t think a large predator would notice this as well? If our cars are passively finding these prey animals then I can promise you a predator actively hunting these animals would be well fed and the populations will quickly soar. The fact that we are seeing so many reports of Cougars leads me to believe their numbers HAVE already risen and we are now seeing the ones who are being pushed to the outer edges of their normal hunting grounds.

    To my mind there are really 2 viable explanations. 1] This is a native Eastern Cougar and they have always remained here. or 2] This is an overflow from either Canada or Mid-West that has migrated to Eastern States and bred with remaining populations, which means with the stated DNA this animal would have to be the OFFSPRING of an original migratory animal.

  5. watn6789 responds:

    I was looking into contacting the lab where they did the testing for various reasons and found this article claiming that it wasn’t so much a matter of percentage testing to Black Hills yet was more a matter of matching a specific animal that was out there.

  6. arewethereyeti responds:

    @ watn6789, thanks for providing the link.

    The article states that DNA from the Cougar in question was, in fact, an exact match for, “older samples — hair and fecal matter,” ALREADY IN the U.S. Forest Service’s Wildlife Genetics Laboratory database! Said genetic signature was, “first spotted in Champlin, MN, in Dec. ’09″ and “…biologists tracked him as he zig-zagged through Wisconsin, leaving behind a trail of paw prints, hair and poop.”

    Clearly, the cat in question traveled from west to east. If claims of mystery DNA are now being “leaked,” it seems the burden of proof is on those proposing a native-eastern lineage for the animal.

    As I mentioned in my earlier comment, until/unless the alleged “unknown DNA” can definitively be shown to be of eastern N.A heritage, the evidence points to a western immigrant. As such it would seem Occam’s Razor would apply regarding the cat’s origins.

  7. mandors responds:

    The sad thing is that once the cover story is out there, “the masses” nod their heads and go back to sleep.
    I simply don’t understand the hostility of wildlife officials on this topic. The reforestation of the Northeast has gone on for over 30 years. When I was a kid my grandmother’s town was all potato farms, cleared farmland as far as you could see. The forest has taken back so much of it that in places it’s pushing up against the roads. In my own town the incidence of coyotes, foxes and dear has skyrocketed over the last decade. That a cougar might possibly reappear does not seem that outlandish, and now we have a body.

  8. Leibolmai responds:

    The unfortunate thing is that in CT if your nature center or wildlife program recieves state funding, you can not educate or elboarate on the possibility of a local cougar population (or insert any extinct creature here). We can educate on what they use to be, and that they are extinct. They are considered extinct and that’s the party line. So the masses being naturally curious ask their local wildlife experts, and they get the party line. When this story first broke the center we are affiliated went as far as suggesting that it was an escaped pet, without any direction from above or the state because to do otherwise they feared risking their funding. The main reason the state doesn’t want to recongize a local population is because then they would have to protect it, etc which costs more money (and CT is broke). Plus, believe it or not CT is still very rural, with lots of farms etc. So lots of folks wouldn’t take kindly to “population” being protected with state funds.

    Its not so much a coverup or conspiracy as its not organized, its just mutal people/organizations not wanting to deal with the consequences and therfore taking the same steps not to pursue/study the possibility of existing populations.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  9. zigoapex responds:

    There is a breeding population in the north east, I saw a young one the spots still on it in 03′ and in 85′ i seen one (adult) cross the road (rt.6)

    I was talking to my doctor and he one 2 years ago on the same mountain range (about 20 miles north) he saw one crossing a road by a small field.

    I have been running into a lot of local people that have been seeing them over the years.

    In the early 80′s there was place in lenox, pa right next to I81 (you could see them driving by) that bred and raised them and were selling them as pets. I’m wondering if he had some escape or let some go when they made him close.

    I have hairs that were stuck a wire fence that was knocked over that I would like to have them checked to see what they are, does anyone know where I could have this done with out costing a fortune?

  10. watn6789 responds:

    @ zigoapex

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture Lab in Missoula MT does the research. They however will not accept a sample from just anyone and they require you to use an established contact of theirs. They might be willing to provide a list of their approved partners and have a website about this.

    On a personal note, I have spent some time in Lenox and that is land is beautiful. The bison farm (might not be Lenox yet close) is cool too.

  11. zigoapex responds:

    @ watn6789

    Thanks for the info, I’m to contact them and see what I have to do.
    The bison farm is off the lenox exit,a couple miles southwest of elk mountain ski resort.

    Just wanted to add about the hairs, there not deer or bear for sure.They are long
    and thin like cat hair and I looked at them under a microscope and compared them to
    online photos of cougar under a microscope, they look similar but I don’t know enough to
    find the differences between the two.

    Just like add what happened , I had put up a green wire fence around my yard for my dogs.(my house is only about a 1/4 mile from where I had the 03′ sighting)
    my yard butts up to a mountian that has thousands of acres of scrub brush, thickets, and no homes or buildings.
    I came home and went to let the dogs out and saw the fence pushed down in a spot.
    I went out in the yard and there was another spot pushed down in the same direction.
    I started looking around and I found a couple of tracks and pieced together what happened. It went to run through the yard and couldn’t see the fence against the green grass,you can see it was just running and it’s belly landed on it and pushed it down like a u shape and the same where it exited the fence on the other side. I could see where
    the front paws(print looked just like a cat print) landed in the yard.the fence was a little over 4 ft and the u shape was about half way down.
    I stood back and you could see how it was moving,the stride was pretty far apart.
    When I inspected the fence closer that is when I found the hairs on it.
    I had a bear knock it down on a couple years before, it was so obvious it was a bear, the big tracks, and It looked like a drunk fell over it and swashed it to the ground, no grace involved what so ever.

    I hope someone soon proves that there is a population that inhabits the Appalachians.

  12. CajunRG responds:

    Some articles that I have read recently about genetic studies of mountain lions have concluded that the so called North American eastern subspecies and the Florida panther are not genetically different from the so called North American western subspecies of mountain lions. This could go a long way to explain the discrepancies in the DNA analysis of the bi cat that was killed in Connecticut. I believe that what we’re seeing is a resurgence of a remnant population of mountain lion in the eastern states due to an increase in the numbers of prey animals such as deer in these areas along with migration of these animals from Canada into their former ranges in the US.

    As a side note, there was a report of at least one mountain lion spotted moving out of the vast Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana when the area was flooded this past spring with water diverted from the Mississippi River. I can’t verify the sighting since I can no longer find the article about this when I do a Google search. The Atchafalaya Basin in south central Louisiana and the swamp area along the Pearl River in southeast Louisiana, between New Orleans and the Mississippi border, are probably the best areas and habitats in Louisiana where remnant populations of this big cat are likely to still exist.



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