Group hopes to track cougars in St. Lawrence County and Adirondacks, seeks help from public
Monday, January 20, 2014 - 9:06 am

Protect the Adirondacks has started a new “Cougar Watch” project to record public sightings of cougars in and around the Adirondack Park.

According to Protect the Park Executive Director Peter Bauer, there are regular reports of cougars across the Adirondacks.

The group will manage a database about all reports made to the Cougar Watch project.

It will also investigate sightings based on what information is available, such as pictures/video of the cougar, pictures of tracks, scat samples, among other evidence. If there is a cluster of reports in a specific geographic area, the group will work with cougar experts to try and assess the presence of cougars.

“There are regular reports of cougars throughout the Adirondacks, but there has not been a central public repository to record these sightings. PROTECT will work to organize and map these reports. Anybody who has recently seen a cougar in or around the Adirondack Park is encouraged to make a report,” said Chuck Clusen, chair of Protect the Adirondacks.

Anyone filing a report should have provide as much information as possible, including the date, time and location, full contact information as well as any other information such as paw prints, print measurements, hair or scat samples.

“We encourage anyone who has recently seen a cougar in the Adirondacks to contact (Protect the Adirondack and file a report,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks. “These big cats have been a mystery in the Adirondacks for a long time. By getting the word out and collecting sightings (Protect the Adirondacks) will try to bring some data to this issue.”

The Cougar Watch project follows the work by a Protect The Adirondacks Board member Peter O’Shea, who for many years recorded sightings of cougars in the Adirondacks. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, O’Shea recorded hundreds of sightings of cougars (also called mountain lions or pumas) from hundreds of people and several times he even tracked cougars in the Adirondacks.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared cougars officially extinct in the eastern U.S. Cougars number in the tens of thousands west of the Mississippi River and occupy almost all large mountainous areas in western states.

There are an estimated 15,000 cougars in California alone. In recent years, cougars have naturally recolonized several parts of the west including the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Badlands of North Dakota, and the Pine Ridge area of western Nebraska.

Reports of cougar sightings can be filed at http://www.protectadks.org/programs/report-a-cougar-sighting/

More information is posted at http://www.protectadks.org/programs/cougar-watch/