Rumor has it there’s a mountain lion roaming the area around . Employees in an office building there snapped a picture of a large animal that was said to be just outside. The picture was circulated in the office and on Facebook and conjecture ensued.
“It’s not a mountain lion. It’s a bobcat,” said Farmington animal control officer Charlene Rogers, who had seen the picture.
“Bobcats live in our area, especially in the UConn area and there has been a family denning there for at least 20 years,” Rogers said.
The sighting was reported to UConn Health Center police as well.
Officially, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection maintains that there are no mountain lions living in Connecticut.
In June and July of 2011, mountain lion sightings were confirmed in Greenwich and in Milford, where a mountain lion was ultimately hit by a car and killed. DEEP reports say that the rash of sightings in southern Connecticut was of the same animal, which had traveled more than 1,500 miles from South Dakota.
“The confirmation of a wild mountain lion in our state was the first recorded in more than 100 years,” said DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty at the time. “This is the first evidence of a mountain lion making its way to Connecticut from western states and there is still no evidence indicating that there is a native population of mountain lions in Connecticut.”
According to Rogers, there are clear differences between a bobcat and a mountain lion that make it easy to distinguish the two species. A mountain lion is of greater size, a distinct color, has a wider head shape and a long tail.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service describes the animal as one color, either reddish brown or grey-brown, "with very long tails and broad, round heads with erect, rounded ears" and weighing between 100 and 140 pounds.
Bobcats, according to the DEEP description, are about twice the size of a house cat, with yellow-brown or reddish brown fur and faint black spots. Bobcats are also stout, with a short tail, prominent face ruff and tufts of black hair sprouting from pointed ears.
Native populations of mountain lions once lived in Connecticut but as settlers cleared land and forests diminished, the animals disappeared from the state. Scientists believe mountain lions were eliminated in Connecticut more than 100 years ago.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service even concluded in 2011 that the eastern cougar is extinct and may have been since the 1930s.