Cougar on the Prowl in Lincoln County? |Richard_F||10/19/04 at 00:20:40|richard_f|xx|0||Cougar on the Prowl in Lincoln County?
By Paula Roberts

Maine wildlife officials say they lack conclusive evidence to prove there are cougars in the state, but many people in Lincoln County have reported cougar sightings.

As an animal control officer for 20 years, Kip Sylvester of Nobleboro said he has heard and practically “seen it all”. In the past couple of years he has received numerous reports of sightings of cougars in Lincoln County. He has yet to see one of these six to eight foot long cats, but he would like to. He is currently working with Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife officials to pinpoint exact locations where cougar(s) have been seen, in order to conduct a study. Sylvester is asking for help from Lincoln County residents.

If anyone has seen a cougar recently, please call Sylvester at 563-3634; 592-3067; or page him at (207) 851-9062.

“We have no confirmed facts of cougars in the state. We have no confirmed sightings. We have seen some signs and interesting tracks and some murky photos, but nothing conclusive,” state Inland Fish and Wildlife biologist Jim Connelly said regarding proof that there are cougars in Maine.

Cougars are large muscular cats, light brown in color, with a three to four foot long tail. They are elusive creatures that feed on mice, hare, chipmunk, squirrel and deer and have been known to take a cow or a horse. “If there is feed in the area the cougar will stay around,” Sylvester said. He estimates cougars can weigh 150 pounds and more.

“They have been sighted all over,” including in Waldoboro, Round Pond, Bristol, Warren, Sheepscot, Westport Island and Nobleboro. “I’m not sure if it is the same cougar or more than one. I got a call from someone in Round Pond that told me it was a female,” Sylvester commented.

In the event that Sylvester accidentally traps one he is under orders to call Inland Fish and Wildlife “ASAP” so a state biologist can inspect the animal. “They are a protected species, you can’t trap or shoot them,” Sylvester said, and there are stiff fines.

Sylvester’s gut instinct says the cougar “is a seed. I think someone planted it here,” he said.

“I had one woman ca1ll me and said they saw a big blip up in a tree. She went back and saw a big cougar up in a tree. She watched it for four or five minutes and then drove away,” Sylvester said.

Another woman on Duck Puddle Road saw one walk across a field. “I asked her to describe it to me, and she described it to a tee with a 3.5-4 foot tail and light brown,” he said.

A woman on East Neck Road in Nobleboro called him and told him she had a large “cat that goes by almost every night. She watched it slinking along just before dark,” Sylvester added.

Sylvester baits coyotes on the backside of his property and dragged a 300 pound dead calf down there. When he went back to the site, the calf was gone. “Something dragged it off” and Sylvester guesses it was a cougar. He was unarmed so did not track it. “If something that big dragged it off, I wasn’t going to track it without a sidearm. It is not a good cat to be cornering. I don’t want to scare anyone. I’ve never heard of a cat attacking a person,” he said.

Sylvester has seen and heard it all, from dealing with rats in Damariscotta, to opossum, to monkeys in a tree (porcupine) to coyotes in the lake (loons). “I’ve had some interesting calls, but that one took the cake,” Sylvester said of the “monkey”.

“I would never give up this job for anything in the world. It is challenging and always something different.”

The call Sylvester would most like to receive this fall is sightings of a cougar. “Any information on one would be gratefully appreciated,” he said. Sylvester is also interested in looking at any pictures of cougars taken in or around Lincoln County.