Possible Mtn Lion in New Hampshire

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The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department reported that one of its staff members, following up on a routine report of a mountain lion sighting, saw what is believed to be a mountain lion in a rural area of Barnstead, N.H.

Mountain lions are known to exist in the wild in states no closer than Iowa and Florida, so it is not thought to be a dispersing wild animal, but rather is most likely an illegally released pet.

"Survival of this type of animal is typically extremely low as they normally do not have the developed abilities to catch prey on a consistent basis, and/or may have been de-clawed," said Fish and Game Wildlife Division Chief Steve Weber. "If the animal does survive, we would expect to collect hard evidence of its existence in the form of a picture, tracks, scat and/or DNA evidence."

Mountain lions were extirpated from their range in the Eastern United States by the late 1800s, with the exception of the endangered Florida panther. According to the nonprofit research organization cougarnet.org, there have been four confirmed reports of mountain lions in the Northeastern U.S. since 1938.

"The Fish and Game Department receives numerous reports of mountain lions every year," said Weber. "We still have no documentation to confirm their presence. While we do not believe this is a harbinger of a recovering population of mountain lions in New Hampshire, it does add one more credible report to several others we have received over the years."