Reports of mountain lion concern MA town’s residents

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August 18, 2002

Reports of mountain lion concern town’s residents

By The Associated Press

ROCHESTER, Mass. (AP) – State environmental police are on the prowl for what residents believe is a mountain lion, but if a cougar is roaming through Rochester, it has proved elusive.

Residents have reported seeing a tan, long-tailed cat fitting the description of a large mountain lion in dense woods surrounding the Mattapoisett River.

Mountain lions are common in parts of southern Canada and the mountains of the western United States. There have been unconfirmed sightings in New England over the years, but no real evidence.

The main evidence environmental police have in Rochester – a set of tracks – isn’t convincing, said biologist Lou Hambly, retired district manager of the Fish and Wildlife Department.

“With the way it’s been so dry lately, what may look like

mountain lion tracks could be anything,” he told The Standard Times of New Bedford. “Wind changes the looks of things.

It could be a dog for all we know.”

He said he doubts there is a mountain lion roaming through town, but some area residents insist they’ve spotted one.

Richard Howland said it has crisscrossed his property on Snipatuit Road several times, most recently about a week ago.

“At first I thought I was nuts, but I kept seeing the thing,” he said.

Police Chief Bill Przybylek said people should be alert and exercise caution, but said he, too, is skeptical of the reports.

“We had one similar report last year, and I think what they are saying is that this animal has been living here all along,” he said. “But you’d think that more folks would have seen it around, and that’s why I’m a little suspicious.”
 


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