2/27/20 update: After the circulation of the image last week, DEC conducted an investigation and concluded it was not authentic.
“DEC Law Enforcement investigated the sighting and the photo and it was determined that the trail cam photo showing the mountain lion was a fake.”
We asked if that meant the photo itself was fake or a real photo from a different part of the country. The DEC responded, “Nothing more to say from DEC at this point.”
An Ulster County man shared an image of what appears to be a mountain lion he said he caught on a game camera last week.
The animal was photographed in the town of Esopus, off Floyd Ackert Rd. near the town transfer station on West Shore Dr., according to the man, whose name we are not sharing because we do not have permission to do so.
We ran the photo by the Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC], who responded: “The photograph appears to be a mountain lion. However, DEC cannot verify where or when the photograph was taken and encourages the individual who took the photograph to contact DEC.”
The DEC said it did not receive any other recent reports of Mountain Lions in the area.
Some mountain lion facts
- Mountain lions have not have a native, self-sustaining population in the New York State since the late 1800s, according to DEC. Most sightings of mountain lions (aka cougars, pumas, catamounts) turn out to be bobcats, domestic cats or coyotes, according to the DEC. Confirmed sightings are either exotic pets released or individuals making their way east from their home range. DEC confirmed a mountain lion was in the Lake George area in 2011 before being killed by a car in Connecticut. It was believed to have originated in South Dakota.
- Mountain Lions weigh from 80-225 pounds (36-103 kg), averaging 140 (64 kg). Length varies from 5-9 feet (150-275 cm); this measurement includes the 26-32 inch (66-82 cm) tail.
- Their range spreads from the Canadian Yukon to Patagonia in South America, the largest of any living mammal in the Americas.
- The name “cougar” means “false deer” in Tupi, the language of an Amazonian people. The origin is obvious: while deer are a relatively common sight, mountain lions are extremely elusive, so when you looking through the undergrowth or across a field see a large, 100lb or so, tawny colored animal, chances are your first thought is “deer.”
- Speaking of deer, this is more of an opinion than fact, but mountain lions appear to be nature’s perfect deer hunter. They kill about a deer a week and have a high success rate. “In the process of natural selection, given a liberal allowance of time, it is the lion’s claw, the lion’s tooth and need, that has given the deer its beauty and speed and grace,” wrote Edward Abbey. Wolves hunt deer too but they hunt in the canine style- a pack coursing the herd, tiring it out, separating the weak and young. A deer did not need to evolve its “beauty and speed and grace” (and reflexes) to the extent it did to stay one step ahead of the wolf.
That deer never stood a chance.
- Some mountain lion abilities from mountainlion.org: Mountain lions can: Bound up to 40 feet running; Leap 15 feet up a tree; Climb over a 12 foot fence; Travel many miles at 10 mph; Reach speeds of 50 mph in a sprint
- Are mountain lions the “cat” in “Catskills”? Unclear. Leslie T. Sharpe in The Quarry Fox: And Other Critters of the Wild Catskills considered the question. The mountain range was apparently named after the creek, but how the creek got its name is lost. Did an early settler see a mountain lion drinking from its waters one day? Or more likely, a bobcat?