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January 24, 2014

It's tough to say what you really did see


Recently, a group called PROTECT the Adirondacks joined the program Cougar Watch to collect data and map sightings of cougars in the Adirondack Park. Oh, they’ll get lots of input, but a mountain lion is very elusive and requires a lot of food to survive. With the lack of deer in most areas in the north woods, those big cats will have trouble keeping their stomachs full.

I hunted elk many times on a ranch in western Colorado. Cougars are quite abundant in that area, yet anyone hardly ever sees one. Even Ned, who has lived there all his life, will go years between sightings. Why? They don’t live in populated areas. They don’t like people.

Old John Vodron, an Adirondack legend in the Wells/Speculator area, was a logger and a guide for many years. He’d tell us many a tale about cougars in the Adirondacks while sitting in camp at night.

He was “carrying a deer back to camp one night and a mountain lion followed me down the trail. It snarled and growled but stayed behind me just out of sight. After going a couple miles, I stopped and cut the front leg off my deer and threw it behind me. That was the only way I made it back to camp unscathed.”

If that story wasn’t good enough, John had a dozen more just like it. Like being “face-to-face with that angry, old cougar that was just on the other side of the log from me. He had his ears back and those big teeth ... “ You get the picture.

So, do mountains lions live in New York? No.

But do they pass through looking for a mate or some new territory? Probably.

Did you actually see one, though?

I don’t know. I wasn’t there.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at

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