North Country residents claim to have seen cougars|jon_downes|jon@cfz.org.uk|05/17/04 at 18:41:13|jon_downes|xx|0|4.34.191.96|From WSTM-TV Channel 3 (Syracuse, NY):
North Country residents claim to have seen cougars

Edited by Dave Pieklik
5/14/04 4:28 p.m.

Some residents in the Jefferson County claim to have spotted cougars in the
area. Environmental officials say they have their doubts.

Scientists will tell you the cougar hasn't been spotted in New York state
since it was hunted to near extinction more than 100 years ago.  But try
convincing Susan Horan, who says she saw one in her backyard last week.

"It looked just like a cat and it has a big, big long tail and it laid down
in that gully there and it was flippin it's tail," said Horan.

This isn't the first time a cougar has been seen in the area.  Last
February, a hunter in Bellville took a photo of what he believes to be a
cougar standing in a field.  In July 2000, Action News 3 reported on more
than 60 sightings of cougars in the Southern Tier.

Despite the sightings, the Department of Environmental Conservation doubts
the cat has made a comeback.

"We tend to be a little bit skeptical that they've returned in a natural
way, say migrating from the west or something like that," said D.E.C.
official Jim Farquhara.

The D.E.C. believes what people may be seeing isn't a cougar but a smaller
type cat like a fisher. But Horan says she knows what she saw and it wasn't
a smaller cat.

"That definitely was not...it's as big as my dog and he's a one hundred and
twenty pound white lab," she said.

While the cougar may or may not be in New York, the elusive cat is making a
comeback in other parts of the country.  There are now more than 40,000
cougars in the western United States.
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