Greenwich big cat sighting likely a mountain lion

A large cat believed to be a mountain lion was spotted in Greenwich, CT. (DEP)

June 9, 2011 3:22:33 PM PDT
Greenwich Police investigated reports of a mountain lion roaming around the wealthy town on Wednesday.

Police say that there have been three sightings of a large cat in north Greenwich in the last week. The most recent came Sunday near the Brunswick School, a prep school where faculty members reported seeing a mountain lion on Sunday.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has determined that the large cat sighted in Greenwich is likely to be mountain lion.

The DEP is working with their counterparts at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Police to reallocate some of their assets to address the situation.

In states where the mountain lions are still plentiful, contact with humans is still very rare.

The Greenwich Police Department strongly suggests that all area residents take the DEP's recommended precautions when dealing with mountain lions very seriously.

There is no native population of mountain lions in Connecticut and the eastern mountain lion has been declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Anyone that sees this animal should not approach it and immediately call the local police and the DEP 24-hour Emergency Phone Line at 860-423-3333.

"Although there is no population of mountain lions in the Northeast, we believe that this animal may very likely be a mountain lion that has been held in captivity and either escaped or was released," said DEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette. "Our current information, which we will continue to evaluate, is based on hazy photographs we have seen and the size of the paw prints that have been left behind."

There have been reported sightings of mountain lions in Connecticut in the past but none have been confirmed. The eastern mountain lion was declared extinct in March of this year by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service so if this animal is confirmed to be a mountain lion it will be one that has been held in captivity. The closest confirmed population of mountain lions is in Missouri.