At the beginning of the 21st Century monsters still roam the remote, and sometimes not so remote, corners of our planet. It is our job to search for them. The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is - we believe - the largest professional, scientific and full-time organisation in the world dedicated to cryptozoology - the study of unknown animals. Since 1992 the CFZ has carried out an unparalleled programme of research and investigation all over the world. Since 2009 we have been running the increasingly popular CFZ Blog Network, and although there has been an American branch of the CFZ for over ten years now, it is only now that it has a dedicated blog.

Monday, 30 December 2013

ZACHARY MANN ON VIRGINIA MOUNTAIN LIONS

What’s New Pussy Cat?
          Sometimes collecting reports of mysterious creatures can be as simple as taking the time to sit down and talk with your own family members. When I was younger I spent afternoons after school with my aunt. She lives on the boarder of Chesterfield and Amelia Counties. Back then it was and in many ways still is a very wild place. I can remember on more than one occasion getting off the school bus and being greeted by entire flocks of wild turkey. I had also seen on many occasions deer, foxes and ground hogs too. She had even seen a bear or two occasionally, but I never saw those. Because of my love for animals, I asked her had she seen other kinds of animals on her property. She had.
          During the mid to late 1970’s she had seen another kind of animal on her property, a mountain lion. I was completely blown away. Mountain lions are one of my favorite animals and I knew that they had lived in Virginia previously, but officially they have been extinct here for over a hundred years, just as they have been officially extinct in the entire Eastern United States (minus Florida) for more than a hundred years. And yet every year from Maine to Georgia, Vermont to Indiana there are hundreds of reported encounters with Mountain Lions.
          Right away I started pouring through websites and newspaper archives to try and see if I could find any additional sightings from before or after my aunt’s. I found a great deal of reports from other places in Virginia, but for the longest time nothing from any of the counties close to my home.
      I started to give up hope of finding anything, until I stumbled across a rash of Mountain Lion sightings on a local website. The website, Old Dominion Wildlife.com is not a website run by cryptozoology enthusiasts, or even people with a high level of interest in such matters, it is a local website dedicated to people living in Virginia with a love for the outdoors and its wildlife, where people can share pictures of their local wildlife and talk about what they have seen.
          But in March 2012 they reported a number of their subscribers in Chesterfield, Amelia, and Surry Counties had started seeing on a regular basis what they could only describe as mountain lions.
  Then in mid-December 2012 a couple in Powhatan County, just east of Chesterfield, started hearing loud awful screams at night. Their house cats would always become very frightened whenever such noises where heard. Then one morning the husband found a set of very large cat-like tracks on their property. He had them sent away to be analyzed, but they were returned to him as inconclusive.

          The site also featured a photo taken at night of what was claimed to be a mountain lion. The object looks big in the picture and the eyes are quiet large, but it isn’t in focus and is frankly too grainy to tell just what it is.
          Looking over these reports I have to say I’m intrigued. Many counties like Amelia, Powhatan, and to Cumberland are still very sparsely populated and filled with all kinds of wildlife. There is certainly enough room and prey for a few mountain lions to live comfortably there. I will keep everyone updated should I come across any new sightings or reports of things like tracks and photos. Until then this is just a friendly reminder to take the time and enjoy the wilderness and the wildlife that is all around you. You never know just what you might find or see.
Editor's note: The mountain lion (Panthera concolor) is identical with the puma or cougar.
         

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