All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In Search of Maine's Mountain Lions

Students at Dexter Regional High School, led by teacher-adviser Regan McPhetres, will be investigating whether mountain lions exist in Maine.
A hot line for sightings has been created at the school for the program. A survey will be mailed out to those who call. Based on the information provided, students will follow up with either a face-to-face interview or a telephone call, according to McPhetres.

In addition, hard evidence will be collected from sightings, including photos, scat, tracks and hair. The students also will develop a map of the sightings.

McPhetres said his group will share information obtained during the investigation with the DIF&W and any other agency interested. [Link, via Cryptomundo]
Mountain lions (also called American panthers, cougars, catamounts, and "Indian devils") were once a common—and commonly feared—resident of Maine's forests. William B. Lapham described one Oxford County pioneer's encounter with a cat in his History of Rumford:
One of them once followed a Paris man, who had been to New Pennacook [now Rumford] after seed potatoes, to his home on the bank of the Little Androscoggin. He entered his house, and had just time to close the door and bar it, when the infuriated and disappointed animal came against it. But the door was stoutly made and resisted his attacks, and after hanging around awhile, he uttered a fearful cry and plunged into the forest. This man had stopped at an old camp near North Woodstock, intending to spend the night there, but, after it became dark, he was startled by the cry of a panther not far away, and knowing that the old shanty would offer no protection, he shouldered his bag and started for home by the narrow path through the woods. The animal followed him but seemed in no haste to seize him, evidently supposing him to be his own, and that he could take him when he pleased. Macomber, for that was his name, when the animal came quite near, threw down his bag of potatoes which stopped him a few moments, and afterwards threw off his coat for the same purpose, and with the same effect. After satisfying his curiosity, the mammoth cat on each occasion, set up his fearful scream and followed on. Macomber's escape was marvelous, and the incident was talked over at the firesides of the settlers for many a day and year.
[Photo credit: Cougar by Valerie]

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