By Carla Kolbe
EDINBURG — Residents near Sinclair Road have reported seeing a mountain lion in the area during the past couple of weeks.
According to Edinburg Supervisor Jean Raymond, more than two individuals have reported seeing a large cat.
One person, who asked that their name be withheld, said they saw a cat on two separate mornings just off Sinclair Road, near the Great Sacandaga Lake. The second time, the animal was dragging along the carcass of a fawn with the mother doe chasing along.
Another sighting was off Sinclair Road, near White Birch where the animal was seen running away with two cubs.
Late-night sightings of a large animal with a long tail near White Birch road were reported as the unidentified animal calmly returned into the woods.
Laurie Colvin of Partridge Road let her 12-pound Pekinese named Ginger out 2:30 a.m. last week. She called for the dog, but it never returned. In the morning, her husband found the dog’s remains about 100 yards from her home, surrounded by large cat tracks.
According to Colvin, the local dog warden was called in, as was the state Department of Environmental Conservation, who took photos and cast the prints. She has yet to receive the results of the findings, she said.
The DEC claims it has received a number of calls regarding a possible cougar in the Edinburg area. Many of the reports received have been second- or third-hand.
DEC Region 5 Public Affairs specialist David Winchell said the DEC had received the one Edinburg first-hand report involving the small dog reportedly killed and partially eaten by a wild animal.
The individuals had taken photos of tracks near the carcass that they thought might be cougar tracks and sent them to the DEC wildlife unit. After being examined by a number of biologists it was determined the tracks were from an animal in the cat family, but were too small to be from a cougar.
The tracks were most likely from a bobcat which could have killed the dog or, more likely, the dog had been killed by coyotes or a fisher and the bobcat was attracted to the carcass, according to the DEC.
Winchell said the DEC has received hundreds of reports of cougar sightings over the years. The vast majority of these reports are cases of mistaken identity. This can often happen when there are reports of a cougar in an area.
In one instance, a credible report of a cougar sighting in northern Franklin County included a scat sample. Lab analysis determined that the scat was from a bobcat. See www.dec.ny.gov/animals/44564.html for more information on cougars and mistaken sightings and false reports.
The DEC information given states, there is a remote possibility that there is a cougar in the area. Last year it was confirmed that a cougar originating from the west passed through the Lake George area. It eventually was struck and killed by a motor vehicle on a road in Connecticut.
There had been at least one confirmed case of a cougar killed in Saratoga County. Analysis of the carcass determined that it had been held in captivity for a period of time and had been released or escaped.
According to Winchell, It is unlikely that the animal reported in Edinburg is a cougar. Of the many hundreds of reports the DEC has received of cougars over the years only a handful have been confirmed, or deemed likely, to have been an actual cougar.
The reports and photos the DEC received indicate that the animal in Edinburg is too small to be an adult cougar. Adult cougars are large animals with a three to five foot body length, plus a two to three foot tail, and weigh about 150 pounds.
The DEC is interested in obtaining any evidence of cougars. Photos of the animal or its tracks (with a ruler or other object for size references) can be e-mailed to DEC Region 5 wildlife at [email protected] Scat or hair samples may also be of interest if there is other evidence indicating that they are from a cougar.
There are many wildlife species in the Edinburg area that can harm or kill small dogs and cats. Raccoons, porcupines, fishers, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, bears and owls are all known to cause injury, spread disease or prey on pets. Pets should not be allowed to run loose in the woods unattended.
Children should always be supervised by adults as well and instructed to observe wildlife but avoid contact. Young children can be curious and approach animals. Even young animals can scratch and bite and adult animals may attack to protect their young from a perceived threat. There is the possibility of direct injury or disease.
Winchell concluded by saying it is safe for adults to walk in the woods with their children and their pets in Edinburg without fear of attack by a wild animal — at least no more than the usual level of respect of wild animals needed to avoid confrontations.
When asked, Supervisor Jean Raymond stated, “If only one person was telling me this, I’d have taken it with a grain of salt, but this is becoming a little too involved.”
Laurie Colvin now fears to let her children and grandchildren play outside.
“We hear the bears and other animals, and they do not bother or scare us,” said Colvin, “But this is different. I really do not know.”