Statements by Helen Recently

I missed a post by Helen recently, where she attempted to attach whats here in New England. I normally am not quite this blunt on here, but it needs addressing.

”Wrong, wrong, Weather! There are no breeding populations in Michigan or in eastern Canada”.

Your angry declarations may resonate with a few on this blog but readers are advised to take these statements with a grain of salt. We’ve already answered this breeding question multiple times in the last week and provided details to support it but you won’t take YES for an answer and keep coming back with the same old lines. Talking points work well with casual readers of this blog who may not be especially well informed about what’s going on in the East and are looking for accurate information to help them understand this controversy but don’t expect us to agree with you.

“Both Chris & I were once believers, but we've learned that hundreds of alleged sightings mean nothing without evidence.”

The reason these sightings mean nothing to you is because you can’t trust anyone else and can’t take anyone’s word for anything. We are fully aware that well meaning citizens make honest mistakes. People may exaggerate or even lie in some cases but that doesn’t mean we should heap every witness in that category. Many sighting reports are credible. Nova Scotia, for example, scanned their data base and Fred Scott eliminated half the reports that seemed questionable or unlikely but that still left 450 that they believed had merit. In our opinion, that’s a reasonable formula for assessing observations-half are indeterminate or unlikely and the other half are either promising, probable or possible. Most skeptics, on the other hand, wouldn’t accept any reports on the NS data base because they believe no cougars are left in eastern Canada and any sighting of them false. They would view the collection of eye witness observations as meaningless, untrustworthy or unreliable and would discard the entire NS data base followed by a very public declaration that no mountain lions are present in the Province other than those kept at the Oak lawn Farm zoo. The only thing deniers consider legitimate are truck loads of dead cougars with a government stamp of approval on them certifying that all are males (hence no natural reproduction), all were were former pets with SA ancestry that escaped from captivity and none are relic eastern cougars. But having done that and taken a public stand, what would they say to the Head of their Endangered Species Division whose sighting in Ingonish was reported in 1996? Would they look him the eye and “I don’t just believe you?” Would they say “ I can't accept this”, even though he has a doctorate in biology and spent his entire career in this field. Would they would tell him that he was “probably mistaken”, that people “often confuse coyotes for pumas” and that what he saw was “probably a Labrador retriever” even though the incident took place in mid day and the animal was right next to his car. This is the problem I have with skeptics-it’s their inability to sort things through and make an intelligent decision about events that reflects what really happens. Among the hundreds of alleged sightings Helen mentions (it’s actually thousands, but why quibble over the minor points) are those of state employees in the DEEC, DEM, MI DNR, NH DNR, NS F&W among others, along with police (Shirley MA, for example), animal control officers in Ct and other states; town officials in CT including Fairfield; staff of various land trusts in NE which includes three Audubon Society Sanctuaries; some federal officials (whose names we will not provide you), and the heads of wildlife agencies in the New England states and Canada.

“Supposed evidence in the East is usually photos of bobcats or orange house cats, tracks of dogs and small bears, deliberate hoaxes, or indeterminate animals”.

This is absolutely a false statement and reflects the narrow minded viewpoint shared by a handful of people in your organization. Why don’t we start with the video in Easton, MA? What about the photo from Spencer? What about the photo from Waldoboro? What about the scat in the Quabbin? What about the sighting by Dr. Jameson Chase? What about the sighting by Dr. John Baker? What about the sightings and tracks discovered by Bob Bancroft? What about the tracks that Lloyd Duncanson found and casted? What about the cougar that ran in front of Wendy Knowton's cruiser? What about the police sighting in Huntington?

“There are a few documented instances of individuals that were definitely or probably former captives,.....”

More half truths but now that you acknowledge that pets are in the Northeast we can finally get you to admit that these animals are possible sources of breeding. Since not everyone neuters cougars, any fertile females that escape or are released into the wild are viable sources of natural reproduction in the Northeast. If you disagree, you must think that only males are kept as pets or that every female held in captivity has been neutered. Impossible. Even a few exceptions to this flawed rule for female cougars might be enough to set off a population expansion? I’ll repeat Gauthier's statement that “some of the samples were of SA origin but others were of NA origin.” He was not able to distinguish eastern cougars from other NA subspecies, which leaves open the door to the possible survival of the eastern cats into modern times. Obviously, all of these animals were kittens at one time and it is likely that many spent the first 18 months of their lives in some place in Eastern Canada at their Mother’s side. Based upon Gauthier’s statement, not all are former captives with SA ancestry and they all aren’t dispersers from South Dakota (remember agencies insist this is a one in a million event that won’t be repeated). That leaves only one other conclusion; many or perhaps even most of these lions were born in Eastern Canada to free ranging animals in the Provinces or nearby regions where evidence of them were found. It isn’t just a few isolated examples we are considering. Stuart Kenn estimates 800 cats are found in Ontario alone and the other three provinces have sizeable populations as well. We may not have dead kittens to prove natural reproduction in every instances but won't don’t need them either. It’s so obvious even a novice can figure this out. The Mountain lions observed in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario over the last five decades didn’t just appear out of thin air... they can’t possibly be all pets.....and 800 lions didn’t walk 2,700 miles from the Black Hills to the Maritimes without someone noticing either. These mountain lions must be native to Eastern Canada by reason of birth to a Mother that occupied a home range in one of these four Provinces. Think about it.

“.....and there is the Connecticut Cougar. That's it.”

That’s it.............except for the kittens in Cape Breton and New York (Real puma experts were amused by the DEEC’s conclusions on this one, by the way. Kittens typically have worn pads and it isn’t that unusual for juveniles to be emaciated). Then there was the adult cougar road killed in 1991-2 outside Westerly, RI and three pumas killed in Canada, including a lactating female, and the three pumas knocked unconscious in collisions with cars in Burlington, CT, Mason, NH and Shelburne, NS which Provincial officials accept as the only “virtually certain” sighting report in their data base. In two of these instances the unconscious animals were carried to the side of the road where they revived and walked away. In the CT incident, the DEEP send someone who took multiple photos and nearly got slapped in the face by a paw when he ventured too close with the camera to get a close up. The state trooper who was present that day is retired and lives in the same town. This animal, incidentally, was a juvenile with spots. It weighed an estimated 45 pounds. Four people had it in plain view for at least 15 minutes. There’s more examples like this but we’ve made our point. You have access to a computer and claim to have a working knowledge of this puma phenomenon. If that’s true, you must have known about Finn Bower? Or the horses injured in Matunuck, Larry’s River and Mystic by cougars? Why didn’t you bring them up for discussion? It seems that a lot of time has been wasted developing cougar tracking skills but you’ve invested little or no effort on the ground in SNE or eastern Canada where all the action is taking place. You want us to forget New England and turn our attention to the really important things going on elsewhere (sic) where your organization has been active. Years were wasted in a failed attempt in WV to find proof so naturally you think this experience is a universal one that should be applied to every region. To the point, you believe all this effort spent in New England is a waste of time because there are really no breeding population of cougars in the Northeast or in eastern Canada just like there were none in West Virginia. Should we take this advise and let it all fade away? Not a chance. You’ve never personally seen a cougar in the East or found a single piece of evidence. Chris hasn’t either. What kind of expert does that make you? A laptop cougar expert? A Facebook puma expert? By the way, one was killed recently in West Virginia by the wildlife agency there.


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