Mainers have been arguing for decades about mountain lions — also called cougars, pumas and catamounts — with some saying they don’t live here, and others saying they’ve seen them.
Back in 2011, a cougar roamed all the way from South Dakota to Connecticut — DNA in its scat was used to identify it as the same cat — before it died after being hit by a car. That incident prompted many to reevaluate their thoughts on mountain lions in Maine. If the cats could get as far as southern New England, why not assume they could make it all the way to the Pine Tree State?
Joanie Rhoda, who lives in the Knox County town of Washington, is among those who now think they’ve spotted a cougar right here in Maine.
Rhoda said that on Dec. 31, she was walking on a snow-covered dirt road with her border collie, Denali. A truck pulled up alongside her, and she stopped to chat with the neighbor driving it.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an animal enter the road from the woods about 100 feet from us. Before I turned my head to look at it, I thought to myself that it was probably a deer, but realized when I looked at it full-on that it was a large cat,” Rhoda said. “It was a medium brown color with a long body and a long tail and a small head with small roundish ears and short hair. It was larger than a coyote.”
When the cat turned its head in her direction, Rhoda gasped, and the neighbor looked in the rearview mirror to try to see what she was looking at.
“I turned to him and said, ‘I think that’s a bobcat!’ I actually did not know what a bobcat looks like, but couldn’t think of anything else it would have been. All I knew was that it was definitely some kind of large cat,” she said.
When Rhoda got home she told her daughter, BDN Maine Focus editor Erin Rhoda, about the incident, and Erin looked up images of bobcats. They didn’t match the cat Joanie Rhoda had seen.
John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their...
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