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Laughing At Ghosts In Maine Woods

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 24th, 2007

John Richardson followed up his earlier article on the eastern panther survey with a short column on March 24, 2007, entitled “Seeing ‘ghosts’ in the Maine woods.”

Today’s commentary has the classic framework of beginning and ending paragraphs, which in typical journalistic style, are used to bring balance into the tone of the article:

For an animal that’s supposed to be extinct in the eastern United States, mountain lions have sure been getting around the Maine woods….So if you think you’ve seen a mountain lion, you aren’t crazy. You may not even be wrong. And you certainly are not alone.John Richardson

But let’s examine the middle. In between, the tension between some eyewitnesses and officialdom is revealed:

….The couple did some research and believe what they saw [in August 2006] was a cougar, so Patricia called the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife thinking the experts would be as excited as she was. “The woman who answered the phone … laughed at me and said, ‘Well, it’s fine and we’ll have somebody call,’” Patricia [Estabrook of Belfast] said. “Nobody’s called so far and it’s March.”

State officials say they don’t approve of anyone laughing off a mountain lion report and that they routinely follow up and record details. Sometimes, they go out and look. “We certainly would be interested if we were able to confirm a cougar sighting,” said Wally Jakubas, mammal specialist with the Maine IF&W.

But at the same time, he said, such a sighting would not resolve a whole lot. There already is scientific evidence that cougars occasionally roam the East. For one thing, federal records describe mountain lion carcasses found in rural New York, Pennsylvania and Quebec in the past 40 years. But those animals are believed to have been captive cats that escaped or were released. And confirmed sightings of live cats are presumed to be wayward pets, too. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, while not denying that individuals in the agency have been dismissive in the past, insists it is conducting the current review with an open, scientific mind.John Richardson

Okay, then why do officials on the state level in several Eastern states continue to laugh and ignore eastern mountain lion eyewitnesses?

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.


9 Responses to “Laughing At Ghosts In Maine Woods”

  1. hlw responds:

    You don’t have to go into the Maine woods to run into big cats in New England. We’ve has reports in Mass. from one end of the state to the other.

    In 2003-04 we had a continuous stream of reports from the Beverly, Manchester, Essex area. This is only 20 miles north of Boston. Reports included foot prints, scats, a couple mutilated deer, bad photos etc. It was even seen crossing Rt. 128 a major highway going through the area. This is a highly developed area on the Atlantic coast.

    Though local officials thought we had a mountain lion in the area, state officials were sure we had a “mangy coyote or bobcat”. This was of course done by never leaving their desks to investigate. Coincidentally the Beverly High School sports teams are The Panthers.

  2. Ceroill responds:

    Perhaps it’s bureaucratic inertia. Once something has been decided and codified, then it must be so, and anyone who has experiences counter to the offical word must be stupid, hoaxers, or hallucinating.

  3. Bob Michaels responds:

    if you see a Mountain Lion, just report it to the eastern Cougar network, the H with state officals.

  4. ShefZ28 responds:

    Even if they were captive cats that were released into the wild…it may not come from a genetic family tree that is local to the area but its still a cat in the wild and capable of hunting in the ecosystem. Congrats to any and all species who make a comeback.

  5. Maine Crypto responds:

    Members of my family have had several, repeated up close sightings of mountain lions. (and heard their screams!) mountain lions do live in Maine, and have for years.

  6. Remus responds:

    Captive animals? Wayward pets?

    A lot of those around are there?

    Presumably in order to obtain a kitten I would have to overpower its mother. But of course, she must be an escaped pet herself.

    This makes a LOT more sense than the crazed idea that an animal is returning to its original range in the absence of hunting pressure.

  7. kittenz responds:

    Well actually Remus, you don’t have to overpower a mother puma to acquire a kitten; all you have to do is go online. There are several breeders here in the good ole U.S. of A. who will fix you up with puma kittens, all it takes is some folding green.

    That doesn’t mean that pumas are not repopulating their range though :). Of course they are. Officials of the various eastern states will have to acknowlege that before long.

    Even in areas where pumas are numerous, they are seldom seen, but as pumas reclaim the east, they will leave evidence of their presence. I don’t think the day is too far off when the weight of that evidence will make it very clear that there are pumas among us.

  8. squatchwatcher responds:

    When officials reintroduced lions into the Black Hills of South Dakota some people were worried about lions attacking livestock (mostly in central S.D.) but the authorities apparently did not think cougars would travel that far into the state. They thought there weren’t enough lions to feel crowded or something like that. But there are sightings here in central S.D. Now we have a mountain Lion season, I think in October, to help control the population. So it’s not impossible for the mountain lion to repopulate an area on its own.

  9. Tianne responds:

    I am from western Maine, and I know two people who have seen mountain lions in this state. One lives down near Alfred, and saw it standing in the middle of a little-used dirt road past her home. It was standing broadside in the road, and looked directly at her, so she got a great view of it. She described it as the size of a large dog, tawny colored, and having a long tail. The long tail certainly distinguishes it from being a bobcat. This was probably seven or eight years ago.

    The other person lives in Hiram and knows that at least one mountain lion lives in his several-hundred-acre woodland. He is a retired state official who has been working in his woods as a hobby for several decades. He has heard its distinctive cry more than once, and saw it moving through a clearing twice, most recently only a year or two ago.

    I’m not sure if they’d be willing to talk publicly about their sightings, Mr. Coleman, but I’d be happy to try to get them to speak with you if you’re interested.



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