Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Is That a Mountain Lion I See Wandering New Jersey?

Image from a hunter's game camera in Winslow Township, N.J. - What knd of cat is this?

I have received inquiries over the years of writing this blog about sightings in New Jersey of a moose, elk, reindeer and wolves. None of them inhabit our state. There have been several articles online this month about a "sighting" of a "large cat" in Camden County near the Winslow Hammonton border near Route 73 that was reported to be a mountain lion.

New Jersey's largest cat is officially the bobcat, but these reports to animal control officers are saying this is not a bobcat but of a mountain lion (AKA cougar or puma).

The evidence so far is just a grainy video and photograph taken with a hunter's game camera.


Bobcat - Photo: Public Domain, via commons.wikimedia.org

Bobcats are known to live in New Jersey and are considered endangered by the NJDEP. A bobcat is considered a medium sized-cat, about two feet tall. Though they are larger than a house cat, they are much smaller than a mountain lion. Adult bobcat females in NJ generally weigh between 18 and 25 lbs. and adult males can weigh as much as 35 lbs.

Mountain lions, which probably once lived in this area, are believed to have been extirpated long ago.  The Eastern cougar or eastern puma (Puma concolor couguar) is the name given to the extirpated cougars that once lived in northeastern North America. They were part of the subspecies of the North American cougar that is considered gone from the east coast by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) evaluation in 2011.

A camera trap image of a cougar in Saguaro National Park - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Link
Although cougars somewhat resemble the domestic cat, they are about the same size as an adult human.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Fish and Wildlife division was given the evidence and investigated. Their verdict?  "The Division of Fish and Wildlife reviewed the trail cam photo and video and determined that these are just house cats," said Lawrence Hajna, spokesman for the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection.


Press Coverage in NJ

pressofatlanticcity.com

nj.com/camden

About Reported Cougar Sightings in the East

http://www.wsj.com/articles/eastern-mountain-lions-may-be-extinct-but-locals-still-see-them-1440776646

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/11/04/phantom-of-the-forest-could-the-cougar-again-haunt-eastern-u-s-woodlands/

http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/go-outside/eastern-mountain-lion-mystery/

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