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/

7 comments:

  1. A few are here but you won't see them. [The gov is an equal opportunity employer of the legally blind and think myopically to begin with, so they are usually the last to know.]

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    1. We were driving in the manalapan, monroe area the other day and I saw something in the brush at dusk that resembled this. It was not a dog or a regular cat. (was too large for that) had the same coloring and no markings on it's short fur. It was not a deer by the way it was "pooping". The sight of it still haunts me as I wish I knew what it was.

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  2. Basically the gov denies everything they do not want the public to react too. you can not say absolutely there are none of a species in a state unless you examined the entire population of animals in the state. Sampling statistics has hundreds of confounders and biases.

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    1. True, but I don't think there's a government conspiracy about mountain lions in NJ ;-)

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  3. And Then Comes "The Lazarus Effect" Oh we thought they were extinct because we haven't seen one ourselves therefore how can they be...

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    1. Might it have been a bobcat or coyote? Search those on this site and you'll see some NJ samples.

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  4. What I am sure of is that it wasn't a dog,cat,deer,coyote,fox,bobcat or anything with spots or stipes . The color was a light tan w/ large hind quarters. It was sitting in a pooping stance and appeared tall. the front paws were at the hind legs. Its head was smaller yet was looking in the opposite direction. My husband believes we were on Texas road the west end side of the road maybe near the old MM hall. on the strip mall side. Is any exotic pet owners or nearby zoo's (great adventure) missing an animal?

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