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A catamount in Cos?

July 07, 2010
GROVETON — Around 9 p.m. on the night of June 29 there was a rare call to the Northumberland Police Department that a mountain lion was on Winter Street and had attacked a small dog.

"There was this God awful noise that sounded like a beagle type dog being mauled and you could hear this thing screaming, then all of a sudden the noise was gone," said Erin Bissonette of Winter Street.

Officer Gibson Aaron and Chief Marcel Platt of the Northumberland Police responded to the call and after driving through Winter Street, Lost Nation Road and Reservoir Road with a police cruiser, found no sign of any animal.

Mrs. Bissonnette claims she had seen a glimpse of the animal that had made the noise as it was heading up into the woods and it was carrying something in its mouth what she described as a medium sized object held in the manner that a dog would carry a dead bird.

"I grew up in Stark I will tell you, I know dead 100 percent that was a mountain lion," said Mrs. Bissonette.

Mrs. Bissonette said that she had recognized that same animal around 2 a.m. the previous Sunday when she and her two nieces were awoken by loud screeching. The animal was sitting on the rock across from her house before it jumped down onto the grass, illuminated by a full moon and a neighbor's porch light she said. "It had a tail three feet long, square head, flat face, short hair, big eyes and was a sandalwood like color. It took off into the woods after I set off the car alarm."

"The native eastern cougar...is thought to be extinct," said N.H. Fish and Game Furbearer Biologist Patrick Tate. "The only way of a mountain lion being here, that has happened in other states, would have to be an escaped or released pet."

Mr. Tate receives five to six reports a month of mountain lion sightings, but very few include any evidence to work with such as a photo, scat, fur or paw prints.

"People get aggravated when you don't take their word for it, but Fish and Game needs physical evidence," he said.

Mr. Tate described an eastern cougar as "a very large muscular cat that appears to be three plus feet tall to four feet long (without tail) with erect rounded ears, a blocky face with a dark nose and a light off tan color. The key factor is its long swoopy tail that would be from 2-3 feet long."

The loud noise was also heard by Heather Braase and brother Rich Braase who first called the police. "We were having a campfire when we heard an outrageous screeching noise like a large cat," said Ms. Braase. "We didn't actually get a visual of it, but Rich shined a light on it and saw two eyes about four inches apart."

Mr. Tate also noted It has become very common for people to report attributes from several different feline species."We do get a lot of cases like that, that will sometimes match three or four different animals, such as bobcats, lynx, jaguars or ocelots. It's amazing how much controversy this species creates in New Hampshire," said Mr. Tate.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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