I do not think anything has been as controversial over the years than the presence of Mountain Lions in the mountain state. It has been pretty much agreed upon over the years that the last wild cougar was killed on Leatherwood Creek in Webster County in the year of 1877. The fact that genetically all Mountain Lions (Puma concolor couguar) that reside north of Nicaragua are one and the same. The consensus among the Experts who derive their salaries from either the Federal or State government is that there are no breeding populations of mountain lions in the East; except for in south Florida and possibly northern Ontario. Studies have been done and done again. Same results, every time. Still, nearly every year there are sightings by credible people. I know several who have seen these big cats. If any one of these witnesses told me that they had just seen Snowy Owl at Seneca Rocks; I would drop everything I was doing and drive over for a look. No questions asked.
I am not going into the so and so said they saw or heard about someone seeing something stuff. I am going to tell you what I have seen over the years. Some are in WV, some are not. But, all are in the exact same mountain range that runs through here. The mountains are the mountains and they are the regions’ highway. It was late September of 1979; I was bow hunting in the Bear Creek drainage of Garrett County, MD. I didn't have much sense back then and I didn't come out on the road I thought I was going to end up on. It was black dark when I hit pavement and of course I didn't have a light. My truck was probably 2 miles away and I started hoofing it. Within about 30 minutes; I had a very strong feeling that I was being followed. I could occasionally hear gravel clicking on the blacktop behind me. I never saw anything, but I had a real strange feeling. There was one house on the road and my truck was about a quarter of a mile beyond the house. I walked by the house, a yellow porch light was on and I could see the TV on. Everything was quiet. I was probably 200 yards past the house when the dog started barking. It wasn't happy to see you barking, either. It was very obvious that something was back behind me in the road that the dog did not want there. Makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, too, something like that tends to make you pick up the pace a little; even if you are already about used up.
I went back into the same area the following spring, listening for turkeys and digging some ramps. There was about 2 inches of wet, melting snow on the ground. I dropped down into the hollow that I came out of that night in September. There they were two sets of tracks. One really big cat with a smaller big (Bobcat) sized one walking side by side. There was someone with me that morning and we followed the tracks down to the stream where they crossed a log. The snow ran out fairly quick going up the other side. Neither of us had to question the other upon what we had just seen.
This is my article for the February issue of Two-Lane Livin Part one of three.
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