NH Takes Sightings Seriously

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 20th, 2009

No physical evidence has been found by officials of the State of New Hampshire confirming the first cougar in 140 years is there, but officials are taking seriously a new report of a sighting.

Do you wonder why? Because one of their own staff members saw it.

The sighting occurred late Wednesday [September 16, 2009] in Barnstead, as the staff member for New Hampshire Fish and Game Department was following up on a citizen’s reported sighting, said Mark Ellingwood, a wildlife biologist with the department. The staff member was walking on a trail and spotted the mountain lion about 30 yards away. It was in sight for about 10 seconds.

“The animal slipped away, and that was the end of the encounter,” Ellingwood said.

The sighting appears credible, he said. But like the 100 or so mountain lion reports each year, this one failed to yield any tracks, hair or scat that would convince scientists a mountain lion had definitely passed that way.

If the Barnstead cat were indeed a mountain lion, it is likely a captive animal someone brought into the state and then released, Ellingwood said.


Of course, no one knows where this cougar came from, or if it is a wild specimen, an escaped captive, a released panther, or even if it fell from heaven. Explaining away the origins of this mystery cat before there is even any physical evidence of it to be tested, sure smells a bit of the past official silencing of such reports.

This media account nicely balances, in an unusual move, the above with the following:

“They’re unmistakable,” said Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, a writer who studied mountain lions in Colorado in preparation for her book “The Tribe of Tiger: Cats and Their Culture.” “There isn’t anything else that looks like a mountain lion.”

Thomas said she spotted a mountain lion in 1992 in the field of her Peterborough home and that her son saw one in recent weeks. A friend saw one lying dead by the road, she said, but the carcass was gone by the time he returned.

“Fish and Game is very reluctant to acknowledge they’re here and have been for years,” she said. “You don’t need to be a scientist to know it’s a mountain lion.”

Meanwhile, an earlier eyewitness, Cynthia Seligowski of Brentwood explains the movements of a mountain lion she believes she spotted on her Middle Road lawn a week ago today.
(Cunningham/Democrat Photo)

Seligowski, an artist who is not particularly thrilled with all the media coverage she has been receiving since her sighting took place, said she has little doubt about what she saw and has already discussed her sighting with Fish and Game. She has since learned other sightings have taken place up and down Route 107.

She said the animal appeared calm and very healthy as it sat on her lawn. She considers herself lucky to have seen one.


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Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

7 Responses to “NH Takes Sightings Seriously”

  1. bassaiguy responds:

    Back 1991 I was an undergrad wildlife management student at UNH. As part of a class on wildlife law enforcement we rode along with wardens on their rounds (to verify this – the instructor at the time was Dave Swensen). The warden I was riding with stopped at a deer tag station near Barnstead (I think) and we sat with some biologists over coffee for awhile. They were checking deer tags at a little convenience store/diner. An older guy must have heard we were there because he came in with a home-movie on a VHS tape he had made, which he claimed was a mt. lion. We all watched the tape together on the TV/VCR at the store. The film showed a large cat, yellowish in color, with a diagnostically long tail. The cat was walking at the edge of a yard and grass reached its belly. A later portion of the tape showed the man standing in the same spot and the grass was as high as his knees.

    As a wildlife student it was clear to me it was a mt lion. The two biologists hemmed and hawed, but took the tape! Later in the truck the warden told me he believed it was a mt. lion and had even seen one himself, but stated that there was a lot of pressure on the biologists not to seriously discuss mt lions in NH because of the pressure it would put on the hunting and wood-products industries.

    Well, it’s been nearly 20 years. Maybe we’ll see some action!

  2. cryptidsrus responds:


    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Good news all around on this post. Thanks, Loren.

  3. darkhb responds:

    A cougar, (Mt. Lion), was spotted in Brookfield, NH in July. Seen by a man and his wife clearing brush on their property. Here is their report as relayed to John Harrigan a New Hampshire columnist:

    “This occurred on Saturday, July 11, at 9:45 a.m. at Stoneham Road in Brookfield. It was a clear, calm sunny morning. I watched the cougar cross from one side of the road to the other. I had the cougar in sight long enough that I first heard and then saw movement in the waist-high brush on my property where my wife and I were standing. It then walked out of the brush 20 yards in front of us into the middle of the road where it turned its head and looked directly at me with its ears pinned back and its long tail swinging. It then turned its head forward and continued walking to the other side of the road into the brush on my neighbors’property, which is a sheep farm. I’m convinced they will be finding one eaten soon enough. It seemed like time slowed down while I witnessed this, but it was probably 10 seconds that I watched in amazement as this animal graced me with its presence. I will never forget this experience and that is why I shared it with you because I know you have an appreciation for them as well. It looked directly at me as it passed by us to cross the road in front of where we were standing. It is impossible to mistake this animal when you have one walk in front of you. If it wanted us for breakfast it had an easy meal. I have told my neighbors to be on the lookout, but my wife and I feel it would be a waste of time to report it to Fish and Game. In the meantime I will not be walking in the woods without my pistol and camera. I would never shoot it unless I had no choice, but I do want the choice. They do live amongst us.”

    The NH F&G will continue to deny the existence of cougars because if they ever did confirm that there is an indigenous population of cougars in NH, they would have to come up with a management plan to deal with them. With their budget problems that’s the last thing they need.

    Two interesting side notes to this post; my wife saw a cougar leap across Rt. 153 in Wakefield, NH in the late ’80s as she was coming home from work and pulling into her driveway, and I deer hunt on a property that’s no more than a half-a-mile from where this cougar sighting was. I’ll have that in the back of my mind as I walk to my deer stand in the pitch dark at 5:00 am with only my headlamp for illumination, hoping a cougar doesn’t leap on my back from some overhanging branch!

  4. DWA responds:

    So the props come down, one by one.

    We’re now at: well, must be one, ’cause one of our guys saw it, and of course we’re perfect.

    But it had to be a release. Or an escape.

    Any evidence for that presumption, I’d love to see. I’d think the witness would be competent to at least hazard whether it was or not. What did the witness say?

    And of course, an “official” witness might tamp down his observation with his preconceived notion, and go with the agency flow.

    The scenario for the return of the eastern cougar is almost the exact same as the postulated scenario for the establishment (or as some say, the return) of the eastern coyote.

    Why is it so hard for officialdom to swallow? Makes their jobs harder, is the guess I’d hazard. I just wish they could see how it could make their jobs a lot more fun (and maybe better funded).

  5. DWA responds:

    I should add that as an ancillary to my attendance at the Texas Bigfoot Conference, I was planning on some drive time and a couple of bivouacs in suspected sasquatch country.

    But I will be thinking about bears, and about cougars too, as I’d really hate to get mauled or eaten by some wildlife official’s insistence that there’s nothing to worry about.

    (And fire ants. That wouldn’t be pretty, but TX wildlife officials would tell me so themselves. It’s with the other two that I feel pretty much on my own.)

  6. faron27 responds:

    please lets not shoot it what ever it is. leave it alone and let it reproduce if possible.

  7. darkhb responds:

    I seriously doubt anyone is going to shoot it. I certainly wouldn’t unless threatened as a last resort, or it is caught in the act of attacking livestock – there are several horse, sheep and goat farms in the immediate area of the sighting in Brookfield, NH.

    This does bring up the question and it needs to be seriously discussed – do we want an apex predator that has and does kill human beings, establishing itself, naturally or by being re-introduced by government agencies, in New England? Although there are vast stretches of uninhabited or sparley inhabited areas in all the NE states – most of upstate Maine, the White Mtns. and north of the notches in NH, and the Northeast Kingdom of VT for instance, animals don’t recognize boundaries and will roam anywhere there is adequate food, water, shelter and places to raise their young.

    California alone for instance, a state with established and recognized cougar populations, and according to the California Fish&Game website, has had since 1986, 12 verified mountain lion attacks with 3 fatalities occuring during that 23 year period. It may not sound like alot of deadly encounters but I’m sure it does to those who were attacked or lost a loved one.

    It may mean that we, here in the Northeast, will have to rethink our notion of safety in the woods or mts. Now we may have to think of how to react and be aware that there may be “something in the woods” – to steal a phrase from Nick Redfern – that could seriously ruin our day.

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