GREENWICH, CT (AP/CBSNewYork) – Connecticut environmental officials say it appears the big cat that has been spotted roaming the town of Greenwich is in fact, a mountain lion.
Department of Environmental Protection officials are basing that conclusion on paw prints and a blurry photo of the animal.
It is much larger than a German Shepard. They know this because of the prints and the photo. For scale, they recreated the picture with a dog.
“From what we can determine, it was at least two to three times bigger than a dog and the dog is bigger than a bobcat,” says DEP spokesman Dwayne Gardner. “We’re also working with [the] New York Department of Environmental Conservation to try to obtain a trap for it.”
Mountain lions have been declared extinct in this part of the country, but DEP officials say this could be an animal that has been released or escaped from a local handler.
It is legal to keep one in New York but illegal in Connecticut.
Police say there have been three sightings of the large cat in the last week, the latest on Sunday near the Brunswick School.
A charity walk scheduled at the prep school for the weekend has been moved because of concern for the safety of participants.
Greenwich Conservation director Denise Savageau said that if anyone happens upon a suspected mountain lion, they should, “Act large, stand up tall, wave your arms and make noises. Don’t freeze. You don’t want to act like a bunny.”
By doing so, the animal more than likely will not view a human as prey, Savageau said.
She added that residents should exercise caution in trying to photograph the animal if it is spotted, preferably from the confines of a building or car.
Anyone who spots the mountain lion is asked to immediately contact local officials and the DEP’s 24-hour hotline (860-423-3333). Those with information about the origin of the animal can also contact the DEP to report it anonymously.
Photo of Greenwich Mountain Lion Released [Update]
Oh, the hazards of living amidst the fabulously wealthy. Nobody is reported to have been eaten. Yet.
Update: 11:10 a.m.:
Greenwich Police released a photograph taken of the elusive mountain lion that was taken June 5 on the King Street campus of Brunswick School. (The picture is attached to this article.)
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Wednesday afternoon has confirmed that the recent sightings of a large cat in Greenwich’s Northwest corner is a mountain lion.
Here is the statement released by the agency shortly before 5 p.m., Thursday:
“The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection announced it is cooperating with the Town of Greenwich Police Department to investigate recent sightings of a large cat in the King Street area of Greenwich.
“Based on photographs taken of the animal and other evidence it appears that the animal is a mountain lion that has been held in captivity and was released or escaped. There is no native population of mountain lions in Connecticut and the eastern mountain lion has been declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Anyone that sees this animal should not approach it and immediately call the local police and the DEP 24-hour Emergency Phone Line at 860-423-3333.
“Although there is no population of mountain lions in the Northeast, we believe that this animal may very likely be a mountain lion that has been held in captivity and either escaped or was released,” said DEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette. “Our current information, which we will continue to evaluate, is based on hazy photographs we have seen and the size of the paw prints that have been left behind.
The animal may have escaped from a legally permitted handler from New York, according to the DEP.
“There have been reported sightings of mountain lions in Connecticut in the past but none have been confirmed. The eastern mountain lion was declared extinct in March of this year by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service so if this animal is confirmed to be a mountain lion it will be one that has been held in captivity. The closest confirmed population of mountain lions is in Missouri.
“The DEP will continue to work closely with local officials to attempt to determine the identity of the animal. Anyone spotting the animal should contact local authorities and the DEP. Anyone having knowledge of where the animal may have come from can also anonymously contact the DEP at 860424-3333 with the information.”