While Big Cats like cougars and panthers are quite common in certain areas around the world, there are recent reports that these cats are actually in Central and Northern New York.

Officially, the Eastern Cougar, also known as a puma, catamount, panther and mountain lion has been listed as Extirpated by the Department of Environmental Conservation in New York State. Officially, the big cats have not existed in the northeast since the early 1900's and any reports today are typically misidentification or Urban Legends.

The reports of hunters, hikers and even residents encountering these big cats have persisted through the years and one report from August on 1995 near Oneonta led to an investigation of the sightings. A year after the initial investigation resulted in an accumulation of more than 44 reports of big cat sightings in east-central New York. While many reports since then have proven to be sightings of far more common animals like coyotes and bobcats there are still more accounts that are reported each day including a report from Northern New York near Tupper Lake - Canton region, and a recent investigation by the DEC in Allegany County of a reported sighting.

However, this does not mean all reports are misidentification:

While we have not found definitive evidence of cougars in east-central New York, a DEC wildlife biologist investigated a deer carcass in the Adirondacks in 1993, and concluded it was probably killed by a cougar. In 1997, DNA testing confirmed that scat found in Massachusetts was from a cougar. Similarly, DNA testing confirmed the presence of cougar hair in four instances in the Province of Quebec and two in New Brunswick.


Still, with all of the reports and investigations, the catamount, the Eastern Cougar is mostly regarded as an Urban Legend for New York. The Adirondacks are free of any big cats outside the occasional bobcat. That may not necessarily be the case for very much longer however as experts are predicting the big cats official return to Central New York and the Adirondacks soon because of re-forestation efforts.



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