The tale of the South Dakota cougar who traveled to Connecticut, only to meet his maker after a violent meeting with a car this past June, grows longer. Adirondack Lifestyle readers may recall the mountain lion sightings reported in the Adirondacks last year. Documented sightings from June through December 2010 follow a path from the northwest part of New York State to southeast, in chronological order.
In one sighting, on December 16, 2010, a live mountain lion (aka cougar, puma) was reportedly in the back yard of a resident of Lake George, New York. The cat was backtracked through the snow the next day by retired New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Colonel David Eggleston, and Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Louis Gerrain (NYSDEC Region-5). The men photographed tracks in the snow and recovered several hairs from an apparent bedding site. The hair samples and track photographs were submitted for species identification to NYSDEC on December 21, 2010.
According to officials with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Wildlife Pathology Unit, “Initial results of mitochondrial DNA analysis confirmed the hairs were from a cougar (mountain lion); subsequent DNA profiling, amplified eight loci, and confirmed that the hairs were from the same mountain lion that was killed in Connecticut, and that was previously identified through scat, hair and blood from one site in Minnesota and three sites in Wisconsin in late 2009 and early 2010.”
Those worried about the prospect of a hidden Adirondack puma infestation can take solace in the fact that this lone mountain lion garnered a great deal of attention. He was detected and confirmed through track photographs and DNA, and detected and confirmed several times in other states. This is good evidence if a population of mountain lions lived in the northeastern United States they would likely be detected.
According to DEC spokesperson Lori Severino, the agency will continue to investigate all future reported sightings with no change in policy.
Puma track photograph courtesy of NY State DEC.