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Catamount sighting reported in Wallingford

A woman in Wallingford, VT recently reported seeing what she claims is a catamount in her backyard, and she has the picture to prove it. Doug Blodgett, a biologist from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, stated that although he could not provide definitive confirmation that it was indeed a catamount that Linda Reeves saw, he did not rule out the possibility. 

“I have to say it’s intriguing,” Blodgett said. “She gave a very good description, but I can’t confirm from the photo. There’s just not enough evidence to confirm it.”

Reeves came upon the animal when she was letting her cat out between 1:30 and 2 p.m. last Wednesday. Though she thought at first that the animal may have been a gray fox, upon closer inspection through her binoculars, she was prompted to snap a photo. 

She says the animal looked to be larger than 125 pounds, and measured approximately 3 1/2 to 4 feet long with a tail of roughly the same length.

Over the years, there have been many reported sightings of the elusive catamount, long believed to be extinct, in the state of Vermont. Blodgett states there are generally between 50 to 55 sightings in the region every year, though none of these have ever been confirmed with physical evidence such as tracks or scat left behind by the big cats. 

Most often, people mistake bobcats and feral or domestic cats for the catamount, leading to the high number of reported sightings. Though some sightings, such as Ms. Reeves', are credible, most animal officials in the state believe that there is no longer a native population of catamounts in the area. 

Another popular theory is that organized groups involved in animal reintroduction efforts could be capturing these animals elsewhere or purchasing them illegally through the exotic pet market and releasing them into the wild here in Vermont.

“The exotic pet market is ubiquitous in this region,” Blodgett says. “You can purchase, illegally, mountain lions on the Internet from a number of services. ... Some of our surrounding states, in the past, have had exotic pet permits.”

Reeves said her brief encounter with the animal led her to do some Internet research on the subject, where she learned more about the possibility of an existing catamount population in the state. She claims to be sure that the animal she saw was in fact a catamount. 

“It’s a good sighting and she gave a good description,” Blodgett said. “I just wish I’d been able to confirm it.”

Comments

  • Bender 4 years ago

    You'd think Mr. Blodgett would know the difference between bobcat and a cougar!

  • Cathy Y 4 years ago

    Compare the size of the cat to the fern next to it. Unless that's some prehistoric giant fern, the "catamount" is the size of an average house cat.

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