Re(8): Summary of the facts in New England

In defense of New York's DEC, you’ve made an effort to explain the delay in announcing the discovery of evidence in Lake George but even a casual examination of the information available to the public shows this is not the real motivation behind the agency’s handling of this incident. Spokespersons for the DEC stated in 2011 that they waited “until they had solid evidence at hand” before making the announcement. But this overlooks the photographs taken at the scene by the retired head of the DEC of a cougar track and and the recovery of hair samples which contained more the “solid edible “ they claim they needed. The photographs could have been sent to any number of experts who could have easily identified them and given all the obvious characteristics shown in the picture, almost anyone with a wildlife background- including people at the scene who spent their careers doing this sort of thing could have readily made the correct identification. Funny Landre, Sue Morse or Ortega weren’t contacted on this issue, given their talent, background and experience. Morse, for one, runs a tracking institute. Surely she could have told DEC officials what kind of animal left the tracks near Lake George if Eggleston and Hynes weren’t 100% certain or they needed a second opinion. DNA tests take longer but state labs in NY and others at USFW could have performed the necessity tests in a relatively short period of time given the urgency of the situation. And when the DEC finally sent hair samples to the USFW lab in July they got the results back in two weeks. The question remains, why didn’t they send the samples to the USFW lab in December of 2010 when they first obtained them, instead of waiting until late summer to have the test done? Even if we accept your suggestion that officials withheld evidence from local governments as well as the public to protect the cat from hunters you believe would have tracked down this animal and shot it if given the opportunity, delaying the announcement a week or two would have done the trick. By then it would have been many miles away and had an insurmountable head start. But they didn’t do that. Instead the DEC delayed telling anyone about this finding until a full 8 months later which using standard dispersal rates of 3 miles per day would have permitted this mountain lion to reach Greensboro, North Carolina. Snow falls often in the DACKs and the next storm on December 27, 2010 would have covered up any tracks that you think would have enabled evil men with guns (sic) from tracking it down and killing it. Again, a few weeks delay would have accomplished the objective of protecting the puma at which point they could have issued a statement. Even with no DEC public notice that doesn’t mean this lion was out of the perceived danger you imagined it was in; some hunter, hiker, outdoors person or ordinary citizen might have seen the animal while in a tree stand, discovered it’s tracks while on a hike or looked out the kitchen window like Eggleston’s wife did and spotted it. Nothing the agency did by maintaining secrecy would have prevented someone with a rifle from following fresh tracks or discovering it in their backyard and shooting it if they so desired. The real reason for the unusual delay and secrecy probably stems from the state’s desire to keep a lid on this story until they could come up with a reasonable explanation that would avoid the conclusion that New York has resident mountain lions or the discussion of a breeding population in the press. The accident on June 11th on the Merritt Parkway was just what they were looking for. Linking all of these to cougars in the mid-west solved a lot of problems with the eastern cougar issue being brought again.


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