I own what used to be Dr. Albert All’s home on ‘Depot Street’ (aka Cabin Hill Road).
Diane Decker just sent me a copy of the Andes Gazette with the article titled ‘Was It a Panther’, which ends with Buffy Calvert’s comment that on Nov. 12, 1998 she and two other people saw what they believe to be a wildcat near the Andes School Yard. Your article says that the DEC denied the possibility.
However, I’d like to tell you that in late August of 2006 I saw what I’m certain were a pair of young mountain lions in the same area, on my property in the direction of the Andes School Yard.
One Sunday I saw movement at the edge of the woods on the hillside to the northeast. For over 10 minutes I watched 2 matched big ‘cats’ with long tails play and pounce on each other, as littermates might. They were tawny with spots, NO neck ruffs, long dark tails, and the size of large but not huge dogs (I would estimate that their shoulders would reach about mid-thigh on me, at 5’7″). They seemed young, and I guessed them to be about a year old, observing their size and behavior. Clearly they were larger than any of the bobcats I’ve seen (stuffed or other).
I checked through my Audobon reference to confirm what I was seeing. Finally, I decided to try to photograph them. I crept around the back of the house, but as I reached the mowed edge of my yard (about 45 yards away from the animals) they heard me and dashed into the cover of the woods.
Later in the afternoon, I got up my nerve, grabbed my camera again, and walked along the path towards the bent tree the cats had been playing on and around. When I was about 35 yards away there was movement in the grassy underbrush and one of the mountain lions stood up from where it had been resting and ran off into the woods again. I had a very clear view of this animal.
I called my cousin in Idaho, who is a Forest Manager with the DEC out west, and she told me in no uncertain terms that I should NOT approach these animals. She convinced me that I should avoid the area for the day, but about 3 days later I went to check out that part of the hillside. I found a lot of disturbed leaves and dirt where they’d been tussling, and I found what I thought might have been some of their scat (definitely from a carnivore based on the smell and hair in it, but not fresh… a couple of days old, cat-like in appearance.) I couldn’t find any good prints because it had been dry.
I mentioned to several local people that I’d watched these cats, but everyone scoffed at the idea that they were actually mountain lions. However, if every time someone claims they saw one we’re told it’s not at all possible, then how can ‘sightings’ be counted since we’re not believed?
I’m an artist, and my work in the theatre requires me to be very aware of details – I’m an extremely visual person. I’ve researched African Lions and Cheetahs for my work on the Lion King, and I’ve researched African Leopards for my work on Tarzan. I have NO trouble noting the differences between a bobcat and a mountain lion. No matter what the DEC thinks, I know what I saw on my property two and a half years ago.
I’ll keep watching, and hopefully have a better opportunity to get a photo if this ever happens again. I just want to alert you to what I believe I saw, and in support of Ms. Calvert’s story in the same part of town.
Thanks for your attention.
Mary Nemecek Peterson