BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - There has been several recent reports about mountain lions, orother big cats, spotted in western New York.
News 4 tried to separate fact from fiction.
Well, there are two things going on here, there are people whoclaim to have actually seen them, and then there are the Internetpictures, so we'll start with the more famous pictures.
It happened again last month, a picture started circulating of amountain lion allegedly hit by a car in the southtowns. The samepicture turned up on a Pennsylvania website claiming it was hitthere.
"It's always 'a friend of a friend saw it, a cousin of mine gotthis from a buddy of his,'" said Captain David Bennett of the NYSDepartment of Environmental Conservation.
State conservation officers have posted some of the more famousphotos, like the cougar on the back deck, which was actually takenin the state of Wyoming. One was traced to Arizona. But the bottomline, according to DEC officers, they have never found bones oreven a footprint proving that mountain lions have been here in over100 years.
"None, no proof at all other than those in captivity," saidCaptain Bennett.
News 4 has talked to three people who seem very credible andswear they have seen a mountain lion. One of them in the Bostonhills a few years ago. But, what actually are they seeing?
"It's very difficult to judge size," said Mark Kandel, aregional wildlife manager.
Kandel believes many people are seeing bobcats which are here inwestern New York. A few of them turn up dead on local roads eachyear, but they're only about 16 inches high and top out at 20pounds.
He thinks people who claimed to have seen a black panther mayactually be seeing a fisher cat.. Fisher cats are here, but theyare no more than 20 pounds either.
A mountain lion averages more than 100 pounds, and often feed ondeer. Some people believe the DEC secretly released them here tocontrol the deer population.
"Everybody would know if we did. We can't keep that secret. Alot of people think we can keep it a secret, but it would beimpossible," said Captain Bennett.
Just in the last couple days since News 4 started teasing thisstory, News 4 has heard from at least five other viewers insistingthey've seen a mountain lion. But News 4's George Richert has triedto do this story for years. He has talked to dog wardens, the SPCA,taxidermy shops, and every story comes back to no tracks, nopictures.
Bobcat? Bear? Coyote? The DEC is willing to come look at atrack, but every one they have seen is from some other animal.
To see some of the more popular email hoaxes, visit here. For an example of a story where a fingerlakes man was prosecuted for generating a cougar hoax, visit
Additional facts about the Eastern cougar
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