A New Mountain Lion Sighting in Connecticut?

There were two sightings in East Haddam in the last two years. Now, someone in East Lyme says they saw one this week.


Building Inspector Jay Murphy saw an animal this week that state officials claim don't exist in Connecticut: A mountain lion.

Murphy told Patch Thursday that he clearly saw the big cat around 7 p.m., walk across Cedarbook Lane in East Lyme. He said he was sure it was a mountain lion from the shape and the long tail, which differs from the smaller animal, the bobcat, which has no tail. Murphy later found a paw print in the mud he believes is from the mountain lion.

There have been other mountain lion sightings in the state, including one in nd there was even a dead mountain lion found in Greenwich. Despite those sightings, the state's DEEP remains skeptical that these animals are afoot in the state.

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DEEP spokesman Dwayne Gardner said the print is most likely from a canine and said there are no mountain lions in Connecticut.

“There has not been a native population in the state for quite some time and no verified sighting in over 100 years, with the exception of the one that was killed ” Gardner wrote to Patch in an email. “As you probably know, it was later determined that this mountain lion had made its way to Connecticut from South Dakota.”

Murphy said he is confident that what he saw was a mountain lion. Also, in 2011 and 2012, there were reported sightings in East Haddam.

Murphy’s Story

Murphy lives on Cedarbook Lane in East Lyme. At around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, his dog started barking feverishly and tried to run through its electric fence around the home, he said.

Murphy went outside and he said he saw two yellowish-green eyes. He said he then clearly saw, thanks to a streetlight, a mountain lion cross Cedarbook Lane and take off into the woods.

Murphy described the mountain lion as about five or six feet long, including the tail, and about three feet tall. He went out the next day and found what he believes is a mountain lion print, as he estimated the print from the animal’s pad alone was about 3 ½ inches.

DEEP’s Take

Meanwhile, Gardner was skeptical. Gardner said he had a wildlife biologist look at the footprint Murphy found and said it was most likely from a canine.

Gardner said said the DEEP used DNA evidence to conclude that the mountain lion killed in 2011 by a car in Connecticut was from South Dakota and no other mountain lions have been spotted in Connecticut in at least a century. In fact, in March of 2011, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared the eastern cougar extinct, he said.

“We are always willing to examine any evidence that someone might have of a mountain lion,” Gardner wrote in an email to Patch. “But in the absence of verifiable evidence (confirmed photographs, samples of scat, etc) we continue to believe that there is no breeding populations of mountain lions in Connecticut.”

About Mountain Lions

According to National Geographic, mountain lions are predators that live mostly in the western part of North America and throughout South America. They are solitary animals that prey on animals like deer, coyotes and raccoons, according to National Geographic.

Mountain lions are considered endangered after they were overhunted in the 1800s, according to National Geographic. Statistics show there are usually four reports a year of a mountain lion attacking a human in the United States and Canada, with an average of one fatality per year, according to National Geographic.

FearTheTruth February 01, 2013 at 06:35 PM
There's no movement in the paw print. It looks artificially made.
weather01089 February 01, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Remember, Garners staff also said the cat hit in CT was an "escaped pet". Then came the tale of the cat that traveled from South Dakota, that left DNA in Michigan and New York along the way. But wait, New York said they had never confirmed a cat in New York State, and wow, neither did Michigan!! A private group in Michigan has gathered irrefutable evidence they are there. Another private group in CT is in the process of doing the same. Time will fix this. Enough credible people are seeing these, and the evidence is out there.
eyeonthetruth February 02, 2013 at 03:08 AM
And then someone will kill one and start banging on their chest. Leave them alone!
Bob McCoy February 04, 2013 at 06:50 AM
The reason it's so difficult to get officials to acknowledge sightings is because in the western states with cougar populations, more than 80% of sightings do not involve a cougar. I've uploaded a "Cougar Tracks" brochure to illustrate a cat's track compared to a dog. In the photo, it appears that the nails are showing, strongly leading to canid rather than felid identification. I also forwarded the paw-print picture to a cougar research scientist who has tracked and collared mountain lions for his entire career. "Dog!" was his exact reply. If we could get South Dakota to stop overhunting mountain lions, Connecticut would have a much better chance of establishing a breeding population. South Dakota is the nearest source for dispersing juveniles. Of course, if CT acts like the midwestern states that kill lions on sight, you will continue to have refuted sightings, and deer attacking your cars.
Ex Republican February 04, 2013 at 09:49 PM
20 years ago the DEP said there were no bears in CT. 10 years ago, no moose. Today, no cougars.


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