Mountain Lion Sighted Near UConn Health Center - Or Not

A large cat spotted on Munson Road is just a bobcat, the animal control officer says. What do you think?

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.

They're back February 12, 2012 at 07:24 AM
I think there are probably lone mountain lions in the hills of ct and NY. I also recently saw a dead mountain lion cub on the shoulder of I-81 but, this animal does not have the physique of a mountain lion at all. I am guessing that few people think this is a mountain lion-not even those who believe there are mountain lions (beside the one recently supposedly hit by a SUV that is now serving to assure all that no others exist). What I saw looked nothing like this -dimensions and ratios are all off. This cat is stocky -short legs, no long tail. Cant tell color or markings but definitely not a mountain lion.
Farmington Resident February 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM
I wouldn't dismiss this so easily! While this photo may indeed be inconclusive, there are a few things that trouble me. First the DEP is so quick to say that these sightings are bobcats or coyotes, without even sending anyone to investigate. Secondly, if you look at this photo, the proportions are off for it to be a bobcat. This cat is crouching as cats do when they hunt, and it's tail could easily be tucked down. Also, if a bobcat, there are there would be considerable hair on the tips of its ears (called Lynx tips) that are not seen in this photo. Now I'll restate the photo is too poor in quality to be conclusive, it does be bear more that just the usual lack of attention from our State's DEP. I remember 15 years ago when I sited a bear, the DEP assured me there were none in CT. It's time to really dig in and find out.
Kim Zimmermann February 12, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I'm more concerned about the cat's wellbeing... so much hysteria over animals that wish no interaction with humans. Should we start hunting them along with the bears?
jeff cohan February 12, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Clearly not a mountain lion but does appear to be more than "twice the size of a house cat". Can anybody else see the Saskwatch in the distance behind the trees on the right?
Paul Bahre February 12, 2012 at 01:49 PM
That does not look like any bob cat that I have ever seen. 1. It's too long bobcats are short. 2. The back legs and hind quarters on a bobcat look almost like they belong on a jackrabbit. That really looks to be a Mt. Lion. I do know that UConn med center has a population of bobcats, because I have seen them several times around there. As for the DEP and their categorical denials, they will not believe even when we peal a cat off the front end of a CT cars they still are in denial. They said that cat came from out west. Well they didn't have coyotes in CT till 20 years ago and now we have them in spades. Rumors are that wolves are making their way back. With the re-introduction of turkey's and a deer population that barely gets effected by hunters. Words out in the wild's of North America, Dinner is being served in CT and Western MA.
April Rogers February 12, 2012 at 02:44 PM
No matter what it is, it appears to be a beautiful animal and should be left alone!!
Bill Haggerty February 12, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I've seen mountain lions in Farmington and Cheshire and bears in Simsbury. As soon as a see a tiger, I will have witnessed the "Wizard of Oz" hat trick. Bill Haggerty
Richard Jenkins February 12, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It's to big to be a bobcat... I'm gonna have to go with Mountain Lion on this one. Don't believe the DEP who is in denial, they are out there. I saw one up on a rock outcropping in Plymouth last spring. It just sat there and stared me down as I slowly backed away from it and continued down the trail.
Peter Dinella February 12, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I looked at over 100 bobcat and moutain lion photos on Google Images. The mountain lions didn't have spots; the bobcats all did. I see spots on the cat in the photo; therefore, it must be a bobcat. Too bad the photo was wasn't better, but that always seems to be the case in situations like this!
bearfoot wildlife control LLC February 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM
In my professional opinion as a nuisance wildlife control operator, this appears to be a very large, heavy bobcat. There are many bobcats in this area due to the heavy rabbit population around Uconn. The terrain is conducive to the cottontail rabbit which makes up a major part of the bobcats' diet.
Peter Dinella February 12, 2012 at 03:51 PM
The score so far (10:50 am) on Bobcat v. Mountain Lion: -Mountain Lion - 3 votes -Bobcat - 5 votes -Not Sure - 3 votes
Ted Glanzer (Editor) February 12, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Is there room in this debate to say it's Sasquatch? If so, Peter, add my one vote to the list.
Lori Rennels February 12, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I agree with the bobcat people. If you look very closely you can see markings in the fur. Mountain lions do not have spots and stripes. We have a bobcat up where I live and I have seen it. This looks like it is a very large bobcat!
Peter Dinella February 12, 2012 at 05:43 PM
The score so far (12:40 pm) on Bobcat v. Mountain Lion et al: - Mountain Lion - 3 votes - Bobcat - 6 votes - Not Sure - 3 votes - Saquatch - 1 vote
Peter Dinella February 12, 2012 at 07:49 PM
FINAL CALL for all those who wish to change their vote and be on the winning side - the bobcat side, that is. If you wish to change from Mountain Lion to Bobcat say: "Change from ML to BC". For the Not Sure vague population just say: "I've seen the light, change me to bobcat." For the Sasquatch crowd, go have another glass of wine and forget it. Last vote tally will be after 5pm. Be on the winning side for once in your life!
Joe Stidenti February 12, 2012 at 08:27 PM
It looks very much like a cougar or mountain lion ( same species); however, I do admit upon closer examination, even with the classic cougar shape and facial markings, that it could be a bobcat based on a hint of spots. I just read The Quest For The Eastern Cougar by Robert Tougias. It gives all the information about this topic and great ways to tell the difference bewtween cougar and bobcat. Check it out -- there is more evidence than we commonly know about... Joe
Peter Dinella February 12, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Joe, I imported the poorly done photo into Photoshop, sharpened it, and turned it into a black and white photo. When enlarged, the animal is full of spots in the front portion. It also is a fat load and looks like it's been eating rabbits by the truck load. No sleek mountain lion here. Cast your vote for bobcat and be a winner..
Paul Bahre February 12, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Photos is too grainy to say for sure what it is. Could be a close up of a house cat that has been made to look like a mountain lion. One thing I do know they have never pealed s Sasquatch off the front of a CT bumper ever.
Peter Dinella February 12, 2012 at 10:29 PM
The FINAL VOTE is in and bob cat wins in a landslide. Voting is closed. Accept the wisdom of the majority and have pleasant dreams tonight of bobcats gorging themseld on cute little bunnies ( Sorry, Kim and April).
Bette Case February 13, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I think this one was a bobcat. I have, however, seen a mountain lion here in Unionville. It was several years ago and it passed behind my house in a clearly visible location. I didn't have a camera and wasn't able to photograph it, but interestingly enough, my neighbor had also seen it the day before while he was walking on the trail which passes just below our houses. Of course the DEP rep wouldn't accept our visual sightings as reputable - you have to have a photo to prove it! The animal we saw was larger, moved in a cat-like fashion, and had a long tail. We see bobcats frequently and I know that was not what I saw that day. It moved through a patch of sunlight, so I got a very good look.
pat February 13, 2012 at 02:39 AM
The last Mountain lion I saw in Cheshire was 50 years ago. My neighbor was an MD from Poland. She was very familiar with big cats who frequented Polish farms. Her English was poor, so she was able onl;y to say that she saw "a big cat", and to keep "baby" inside.
Lorren Pogson February 13, 2012 at 01:56 PM
No we should not start hunting them- hunting out of fear is extremely irresponsible and absurd (I'm not sure if you were kidding or not). People need to deal with the fact that we exist with other animals. Many people are far more dangerous with our own tendencies of greed, rage and selfishness than many wild animals- we are far more likely to be attacked and injured by our government than than our four legged cousins. ( I know we are not exceptionally genetically similar however my point in referring to them as cousins is that we are simply animals ourselves.) The state doesn't admit to the Mountain Lion being residents because then it would have to study them. Allocate funding for it as well as conserve open space as home ranges since it is a species of concern. The state doesn't want to lose money by investing in such a creature. I'm on the fence as far as identification on this goes. The markings around the mouth are very similar to the M.L. and it lacks the typically tufted cheeks of the bob cat. It's leg height may be indicative of the animal stalking or keeping a low profile given its exposure. I can't tell if there is a tail either- that is key. M.L. have long tails often with a black tip (a few ft. long)- Bobcats have shorter tails. Another possibility is that it could be a M.L. cub. Cubs maintain their spots for up to ten months and at which time have developed good size and have a thicker coat than their adult counterparts. Check out a photo of a cub.
Lorren Pogson February 13, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Also- if you have a dog and it doesn't want to walk through the woods with you, that's a good clue to choose another path. Trust his/her instincts and chances are you will remain safe. Last week, around the time of this sighting I couldn't get my dog anywhere near Fisher Meadow in Avon which is a quick jaunt for an animal this size. Having situational awareness- observing the stillness of the area in which you are walking is also a great means to prevent interaction between species ifyou are concerned about that. I worked in Idaho for Fish and Game (as well as for DEEP in CT) and I was tracking bears, wolves and often tracked BY mountain lions. All too often I'd see their tracks following mine on my return through the Boise National Forest and I'm still here to talk about it. We can coexist, it's not that big of a deal. As we say in the Army- Stay Alert, Stay Alive! Have nice day folks;-)
Wyatt February 13, 2012 at 05:16 PM
A bobcat - the head shape is a dead give-a-way.
pat February 13, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I hope people will leave it alone. We have driven so much wild life out of CT, it is shameful.
Lynn February 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Thanks to all who posted. It has been very informative. Whatever that beautiful and free creature may be, let us protect it by not pursuing it.
Holly M February 28, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I can't wait to look at this on a desktop computer. Looking at this on my phone browser the pic is the size of a postage stamp so I cannot tell. Bobcats are pretty small though. I just can't tell if this a longer, flabbier, fatter than normal bobcat LOL. This cat's head doesn't look bobcattish to me, but remember, I'm looking at a half inch photo. I'm throwing my tentative vote at this time to a female cougar. After I see this pic full size my vote may change.


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