Search for Cougars

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Search for Cougars

New postby Jon » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:46 pm

I have visited this forum a few times before, and like most of what I see. I am now requesting some help from you, as there seem to be pieces of this puzzle missing.

I have been searching around on many web pages for cougar sightings in the Catskills. I am going to try to see if I can find any type of pattern for where they could be hiding. I remember when I was on Indian head this summer it had an unusual amount of flies, and some odd looking scat. The gross amount of flies could be caused by cougar kills and cougar scat (looked about dog sized with hair in it, no good picture).

I saw the posts about the cougar prints in the Katterskil clove by the creek, and also the ones north by Acra, NY.

Other than that, is there any maps that show sightings (confirmed or not) that have been in the mountainous areas?
I see that on the Cougar page in the Nature section there is a link at the bottom for the DEC FOIL appeal for Thomas Maxson. He received about 170 documents about his FOIL, does anyone know what happened to these documents? Is there some way for me to access them that I haven't found yet? It would be a really great starting point.
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby mike » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:04 am

The gross amount of flies could be caused by cougar kills and cougar scat (looked about dog sized with hair in it, no good picture).


That would be coyote scat. They almost always have hair in them. Cougars will shear the fur off before eating the prey. They will leave a large fur pile, sometimes 6-8' in diameter.

Over the years, there have been many cougar sightings. Almost all of them have been false. But, there have been a few credible ones. The one in the Kaaterskill Clove had prints, fur piles, scat, and kills. That was the most credible one found so far.

As for the DEC FOIL request. I doubt the DEC gave them anything of value.

We have not heard of any additional cougar sightings since the Spring. Maybe that is a good sign. There are Bobcats in the Catskills, but they pose no danger to humans. They are about twice the size of a domestic house cat. A cougar is about 5 times larger then a bobcat.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby Jon » Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:25 pm

Thanks for the tips!
I never would have thought that they tear the fur off first. I just always imagine them chomping through things and gobbling it all up lol. I remember that when i look for scat and tracks in the future.

I know the size difference up close, by me in NJ we have Van Saun's Park and they have captive Mountain Lions and Bobcats. They are only 1 foot away behind a chain link fence.

All the cougars do all day long is pace around the enclosure peeing every once in a while. I love getting up close with these big cats.
They have so much power they can just scale rock walls effortlessly

DSC_0089.JPG


Bobcat
DSC_0098.JPG
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby mtnclimber » Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:26 pm

There is a cougar fur pile on this thread.

You really have to go out west to see mountain lions. North and south dakota or Montana.
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby Jon » Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:53 am

mtnclimber wrote:There is a cougar fur pile on this thread.


OK i remember that picture. I thought that was just a picture of a rotted carcass that had been flung about by scavengers. I often see things like this in the woods resulting from things other than mountain lions. If that's just the furs, with a shaving then where would that be in relation to the bones...or do they chomp those down too?

I know they are out west, my aunt has a huge amount of land in Texas and she says people pay to get them shot there, like exterminators or whatever.

HEck they're just freakin everywhere out west! I just saw today that a pair of cubs was poked with sticks under a car in CA.....
http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Mountain-Lion-Cubs-Burbank-135996528.html

However, I am wishing for conservation of a specie, which could be spreading as a result of global warming. Like out west is too hot and dry. Maybe cougars can sense the increase in tornadoes? Who knows?

They were here once, They got here somehow, they could be here again, and if they are I'll try to find them.

You know the one thing that boggles me when looking at the track of that cougar from allegedly "South Dakota" to be road kill in CT. (went right past Lake george). How did it get past chicago...or cleveland without being spotted? Did it go through canada? Is it just that damn good? How do we know that it wasn't just a local cougar?

How many people really go off trail to all the ravines and couloirs on these mountains? I'm sure there are hidden spots that a person hasn't been in 100 years in the catskills.
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby mike » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:35 am

As the population of cougars out west expands, they are slowly being pushed back east. It is just a matter of time before they start breeding in the Northeast. There are also some up in Ontario Canada. So, some might migrate down into New York.

They once were plentiful in the Catskills. The highest concentration was around the Kaaterskill Clove and the MountainTop. It is no surprise that one was found in the Kaaterskill Clove. It is the perfect habitat for them. The deer cannot outrun them on the steep clove walls. Like shooting fish in a barrel. NYS had a bounty on them back in the 1800's, and this led to their extinction of the Eastern Cougar. When they do repopulate back into New York State, they will most likely be western cougars.

The one that was killed in Connecticut came from South Dakata, and was seen in Wisconsin. They did DNA test on it, and that is how they know where it came from. They are not sure of the path it took from Wisconsin to New York, and finally to Connecticut. But, they can easily travel 50 miles a day. They can also run 50 miles without stopping for a rest. So, it is possible that it came thru canada.

The last known sighting of the Eastern Cougar was around 1930. It is very unlikely that any would have survived. Most that are found now, are releasees or escapees from zoos or people illegally keeping them as pets. But, over time, they will come naturally from the west and populate New York again.

There are few places in the Catskills that are not explored each year. Hunters often go off-trail to some pretty remote places outside of hunting season. Some hikers like myself, often go places no one else would go. Even then, I find evidence that other people have been there. You can also discover their presents by prints, kills, tree scratchings, and scat. Sightings are rare, but the evidence they leave behind tips us off.

They are amazingly powerful killing machines. If you do see one, do not approach it. Bear spray does work on them.
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby Jon » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:09 pm

mike wrote:The one that was killed in Connecticut came from South Dakata, and was seen in Wisconsin. They did DNA test on it, and that is how they know where it came from. They are not sure of the path it took from Wisconsin to New York, and finally to Connecticut. But, they can easily travel 50 miles a day. They can also run 50 miles without stopping for a rest. So, it is possible that it came thru canada.


Now I can understand DNA testing to figure out if it's the same family as ones in SD, if the DNA has similar sequences it's proof that they're related. But I mean really...about 1000 miles would you really expect the DNA to be that different if it were a native New Yorker cougar? I could understand being able to specify which continent on because I'm sure the DNA varies greater with continental differences. Or the differences between Florida Panthers and Rocky Mountain cougars. But how do we know that The SD lion populations didn't originally come from relatives in NY? I'm not saying that the lion didn't get here from SD, I'm just saying I'm not convinced just cause of some DNA test. Unless you're talking about a Maury type DNA test where they found the exact mother and father of the mountain lion. Or if they had that mountain lions DNA on file from previous samples taken in SD. What are the circumstances of this DNA test?

Also I'm not too sure about that running 50 miles a without stopping. I was watching that Casey Anderson on the Television and he was hounding the cougars up in trees. The cougar would jump out of the tree and get so tired running from the hounds that it would jump up another tree. They couldn't run for more than a few sprints. If the last sighting was in Wisconsin or nothern michigan, I'm sure it had to stop and take a breather somewhere in the 800 miles of travel that are missing in between there and Lake George. If it went below the great lakes, it would have to pass through major metropolitan areas. If it went north through Canada it must have been a great swimmer at some point.

I have no doubt they're powerful and dangerous. That's what the telephoto lens is for LOL. I don't plan on getting close at all. I just need to find some discernible proof.
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby Jon » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:19 am

thanks thernal cameras are eventually on my list of helpful items. I really liked during cat week they had these thermal cams to scan over the forest and look for jaguars. Still waaay out of my price range lol.

do you need permission from the dec to setup trailcams? I was looking at a few online, and they seem like a cheaper alternative

and isn't there already a few organizations out there? Like easterncougar and such? I've seen some of them have done trailcam studies in the southern appalachia, but has anyone done a thorough trailcam of the catskills? Other than hunters looking for game
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby mike » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:38 am

DNA testing can pin-point where animals come from. DNA testing was used to determine that rattlesnakes will not cross paved road. In west Saugerties, the DNA from one side of the road is different from the other. They are genetically isolated. Sort of strange, but true.

I have always presumed that when cougars go running (hunting), it means that they run, trot, and walk continuously. If I remember correctly, they go about 17 mph. Part of their strategy is to come up on the back of animals and catch them by surprise. They are also ambush predators. Incredible feat.

We have a trail cam here at Catskill Mountaineer. We do keep it up quite a bit. We also have a special electronic board that we can use a high-resolution camera with. We do get some animals. But, bobcats seem to like to avoid the cameras. apparently, they can hear the camera and will avoid it.

Not sure if you can use a trail cam on state property. The law states that you can't leave any personal property. But, I have heard that the rangers look the other way. Not sure if it is true. If I did put it on state land, I would make sure I had my name and number on it. Sort of like a tree stand. If the rangers did find it, they could call you and ask you to remove it. We also have a metal cage for our camera along with a cable lock.
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Re: Search for Cougars

New postby mike » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:06 pm

It falls under the new Personal Property on State land law. I think they were going to allow trail cameras, but it never got into the law.
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