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NEWSFILE: MYSTERY CATS

09/23/98

Forget Bigfoot DAVENPORT, Wash. - Overgrown alley cats? Weird-looking dogs? Pet panthers that got loose? Those are some of the theories being considered amid more than a half-dozen reports of large black cats lurking near Lincoln Memorial Hospital, 25 miles west of Spokane.

‘What we're hoping is that somebody will get a picture of one of them so we can figure out what we're dealing with, ’ said Curt Wood, state game officer for Lincoln County. Initially, the reports were met with disbelief. But Police Chief Charlie Varain knows some of the witnesses personally and believes too many of the reports are credible. The animals were first seen on a sunny day 2½ weeks ago. Tim Honey said he saw two black cougar-like cats in the weeds on the outskirts of this wheat-farming town. Cougars, which are native to the region, usually have tawny fur. One was about 3 feet tall, stood on a rock about 100 feet away and ran ‘lightning fast,’ Honey said. Neither moved or looked like a dog. Wood is perplexed: ‘It would be a miracle to have two black cougars,’ he said. ‘I would tend to lean toward the exotic-pet theory.‘

The Louisville Ky. TV station WHAS 11 reported a lion in Gerogetown IN. Partial tracks were supposedly found, but the heat was supposed to be responsible for the lion's non appearance for the authorities today. They have no plans for another search unless another (?! this peaked my interest) close sighting. They say since the lion has had the chance to attack a person and didn't, that it doesn't pose a threat (not my reasoning, animals can change ‘moods’ faster than we can).

In November a tame (domesticated almost) cougar was spotted and captured in Georgetown. This one was obviously a pet. In my county (Perry, a couple of hours away) we had a cougar scare a while back, but this was also most likely a escaped or dumped pet.

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Fierce Panther Turns Out To be Real Pussycat, August 22, 1998

A large, mysterious black beast that fearful Novato residents believed to be a panther was videotaped yesterday on a hillside looking suspiciously like a fat cat.

A well-fed house cat is, in fact, what state Department of Fish and Game officials concluded the animal was, but at least one resident refuses to believe them. ‘I've had cats all my life, big and small and this is not a house cat,’ said Brooke Toothman, 45, who vowed she would not let her dog or her 13- and 14-year-old boys out of their Nancy Drive house until the creature is caught. ‘What I saw was a huge animal.‘

Toothman had Novato police and Marin Humane Society officials on her side around 7:30 a.m. yesterday when the animal was spotted from about 100 yards away pouncing on rodents on a hill below Big Rock Ridge, overlooking Sinaloa Middle School.

The animal was big enough to convince a Humane Society officer and a police officer that the beast was an escaped panther. Urgent warnings were given to residents to keep a watch on children and house pets. A free-lance video cameraman arrived just in time to catch the big cat stalking its prey.

As a near frenzy ensued, and television and newspaper reporters rushed to the scene, Fish and Game officials calmly looked at the videotape.

‘It's a big cat, kinda fat, but once you look at the tape you can't confuse it with a wild animal,’ said Lieutenant Ed Magnusen of the Department of Fish and Game. ‘Sometimes the color black can make things look larger than they are.‘

Fish and Game officials estimated the cat weighed about 20 pounds.

Magnusen said a panther has larger ears than this cat, a completely different type of body and no waddle in its walk. He said the morning light and the fact that the cat was on a hillside may have contributed to the illusion that it was bigger than it was.

None of which squared with Toothman, who first spotted the fierce-looking feline three weeks ago and has been trying ever since to get someone, anyone, to do something about it. She argued that she saw the animal from about 40 feet away while Fish and Game officials saw only a distant image on a videotape. Now, she said, a vicious predator is on the loose and nobody is doing anything about it.

Magnusen said a search of the hill where the animal was seen did not turn up any paw prints, hair, scat or tree scratchings normally indicative of a panther, mountain lion or leopard.

The area is surrounded by residential neighborhoods and, farther out, miles of oak-dotted hills, creeks and open space, good mountain lion habitat. But there is no such thing as a black mountain lion, experts say.

Humane Society officials and police initially thought the big cat was an exotic pet that escaped from its owner's home. There have been no reports of escaped panthers, lions or leopards from exotic animal dealers or from anyone else.

Keeping large exotic felines was recently banned in Marin's unincorporated neighborhoods after a tethered 7-month-old Bengal tiger scared a Kentfield jogger.

Tania Lohmus, whose Louise Avenue home overlooks the school, said there are plenty of deer, raccoons, skunks, coyotes and hundreds of cats in the neighborhood, so why not a panther? ‘There are a lot of places for one to hide, and plenty of food, ’ she said.

Nonetheless, teenagers at an orientation barbecue yesterday at Sinaloa Middle School didn't seem to be worried. ‘A panther, here?’ said Casey Arnold, 14, as he stuffed a hot dog in his mouth. ‘that would be the day. ‘

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Colleyville Panther Still Free - (COLLEYVILLE) - A panther that 's been roaming the Tarrant County town of Colleyville is still on the prowl. The animal has been spotted twice in the past three days, but continues to elude authorities. Traps baited with meat are being set out in an effort to catch the big cat. Officials are warning residents in the area to keep children and pets indoors, as they theorise it may be hunting for food and water during the night-time hours. Texas Headlines Tuesday 25 August 1998

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Panther Cornered, But Escapes - (COLLEYVILLE) - A little dog is getting the credit for doing what animal control officer could NOT... cornering a panther.

A small poodle named Boomer was able to corner a black panther that's been roaming a Northeast Tarrant County neighborhood for the past couple of weeks. Boomer's owner, Don Smith, says he heard the dog barking and when he went out to investigate he saw the panther cowering in his Colleyville back yard. Smith pulled his dog into the house and called 911 [emergency service] but by the time authorities got there, the panther had escaped. Texas Headlines Monday 24 August 1998

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Mountain Lion Captured In Yard - (LAS CRUCES) - Sheriff's deputies and Game and Fish officers have captured a mountain lion in a fenced yard outside a Las Cruces home. Two tranquilliser darts were used to capture the cat, which police say weighed in at 65 pounds. The lion's ear was tagged for future reference, and the animal was released into an undisclosed area of the near by Organ Mountains. New Mexico Headlines 21 Friday August 1998

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Mountain Lion Warning - (WHEAT RIDGE) - There is a warning for those in Wheat Ridge... a mountain lion is on the loose. Police says there were two weekend sightings. One man says the cat was in his backyard drinking from a pond before his two dogs scared the animal off. Another man says he opened his door and saw the lion standing a few feet away before it ran off. Wildlife officials think the animal may have wandered into the neighborhood from the Table Mountain area. Wheat Ridge police warn people to keep pets inside at night until the mountain lion is caught. Colorado Headlines Tuesday 18 August 1998

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San Francisco Chronicle Page A1 Killer ‘Cat’ strikes again.

The mystery predator believed responsible for unexplained livestock killings in Jarrahdale has struck again. The hunt for the animal, thought to be a cougar like cat, is to be stepped up after the discovery of another savaged lamb. Veterinary technician Harry Findlay said he was waiting for a second opinion on what animal was capable of biting the lamb cleanly in half before attributing the death to the elusive predator. The unusual kill happened within 500 metres of the sight where a pet lamb was mauled in May.

PS: There is still no word from Murdoch University as regards to the carcass from the last sighting, that they are supposed to be investigating, and performing an autopsy on the carcass.

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From WA UFO Abduction Support Group: 09/16/98

Cougar wanders into downtown building in Canada

VICTORIA, British Columbia (Reuters) - Authorities hope to return a cougar to the wilderness after the big cat was discovered wandering Wednesday inside a downtown building in British Columbia's capital city. ‘It scared the crap out of me,’ said Craig Grebicki, an employee of Scott Plastics, who managed to trap the cougar in a room by throwing a chair against a door.

Conservation officers shot the cat with a tranquilliser dart and captured it without incident. It was unclear what prompted the cat, a three-year-old female, to enter the building, but officers described it as ‘extremely malnourished. ‘ ‘She walked in right by one of our sales reps. He just saw the tail and at first he thought it was a dog, ’ said Sheila Simpson, a company employee. There have been a half-dozen cougar sightings in Victoria in the past three days, but authorities said the reports have come from a wide area so they do not know if this is the only big cat wandering around the city.

British Columbia has had a very dry summer this year, making it difficult for animals including cougars and bears to find enough food in the wild. A cougar was also recently captured prowling in a park in a Vancouver suburb. REUTERS

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Herald Sun newspaper (Melbourne, Australia), page 6 5, Arts & Entertainment section, Tuesday, July 28, 1998

‘The Cats are out of the Bag’

After becoming fascinated by apiece of folklore, a filmmaker took off after pumas in the Grampians. There’s a print in the sand, a flicker in the spotlight and a screech in the bush... sounds like 'Alien Big Cats'.

The chances of pumas roaming the Victorian bush may sound far-fetched, but to Melbourne documentary film-maker Christopher Gogos, recording the rural myth was irresistible. His co-director and co-producer, Alkinos Tsilimidos, first heard the cat stories while on holiday in the Grampians and raved to Gogos.

‘Generally, if you go to anywhere incountry Victoria and speak to locals they know a story about the big cats,’ Gogos says.

Local lore in the Pyrenees, which are a series of rolling hills near Ararat, tells of US servicemen releasing a puma and four cubs into the bush decades ago. A few months after being gripped by the myth, Gogos found himself tracking pumas in the Grampians with a small but dedicated posse of big cat hunters and their salivating hounds.

Along the way, Gogos became a believer. ‘Yes, I am,’ he says. ‘When this thing gets a hold of you, you become obsessed. We came across quite a few pieces of evidence that were quite startling and surprised even us.‘

One of the hunters is a wild-eyed figure who identifies himself as a cryptozoologist, or investigator of strange animals. This is not a discipline one studies at university - yet.

Gogos says his film taps people’s natural fascination with big cats and records ‘an Australian mystery which up until now has really remained a bush myth’. Though the story is about a puma hunt, he says it is Australian by virtue of the hunters who tell it. ‘Only Australians can tell the story the way they have. They are so laid back.’

After three months of research, the documentary was shot in a month in the Grampians, the Strathbogies and in Parachilna, South Australia, on $20,000 of Gogos' and Tsilimidos' own money. ‘There were just the two of us and we didn't want to go through the normal channels for funding because we realised it would take so long,’ Gogos says. ‘It was very much a guerrilla-type of documentary the way we made it.’

Once the filming was done, Gogos and Tsilimidos secured a $50,000 grant for post-production sound editing and mixing from the Australian Film Commission.

‘The three main things we wanted to get were interesting characters, who were going to take us along the story and who we were going to fall in love with and want to follow; as much evidence as we could to create interest; and action, so we needed to go on a hunt as well.’

Gogos says he didn't expect to become so intrigued. ‘When we were shooting one day we where on a hunt, in a convoy of four cars, and we'd stop every 200 metres or so to check for prints on the side of the road,’ Gogos says. ‘Allan's on top of the car getting his own shot of all these characters looking down at the sand and he's thinking 'great shot'. . . . and lo and behold Chris walks through the frame looking for some print!’

'Alien Big Cats' screens as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival at the Capitol Theatre on August 1, and at the State Film Centre on August 5.

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Officers try to trap panther in Grapevine/Colleyville area

The Star-Telegram. August 20, 1998

Animal control officers last night were trying to trap what they believed to be a panther in a wooded area on the Colleyville/Grapevine border.

A dispatcher with the Grapevine Police Department said the black cat was believed to be the same animal seen several weeks ago in the Haltom City area, about 20 miles away. The dispatcher said that animal control officers were certain that it was the animal they have been tracking for weeks.

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Davenport residents spot catlike critters

The Spokesman-Review 2 Oct 1998

DAVENPORT, Wash. - State wildlife officers think people who have been seeing cougar-like black cats in Davenport may not be all wet. But what they're seeing may be: River otters are suspected.

‘Otters are definitely cat-looking in appearance,’ said Curt Wood, state Fish and Wildlife Department officer in Lincoln County.

In addition to a flat head and a whiskery face, river otters have long tails and dark fur that, when wet, can appear jet black - just as a number of credible witnesses here have described recently.

‘If people haven't seen one before, it definitely could be some strange, exotic-looking animal - especially to people out here in this wheat country,’ Wood said.

He said there is a small creek and enough ponds near Lincoln County Memorial Hospital, where most of the sightings occurred last month, to accommodate water-loving otters.

‘That's entirely possible,’ said Steve Pozzanghera, manager of the Fish and Wildlife division that deals with carnivorous and fur-bearing animals.

Otters ‘actually can travel pretty extensively over land,’ Pozzanghera said. They tend to travel at night, moving from one water hole to another, and are proliferating in Eastern Washington.

The otter theory accounts for the lack of missing pets or other signs of a big carnivore on the loose in Davenport. But resident Tim Honey's description of two creatures running ‘lightning fast’ doesn't square well with otters loping along on stubby legs and webbed feet.

Still, Pozzanghera thinks otters are a better explanation than black leopards, jaguars, Bengal cats, mutant black cougars and some of the other possibilities that have been suggested.

Black leopards and jaguars are unusual even in their native habitats in other continents, and chances are slim that someone would import a pair of them and turn them loose in Davenport.

Despite numerous reports from credible witnesses, Pozzanghera thinks black cougars just don't exist. Authoritative texts recognise buff, cinnamon and tawny cougars - even blue-silver or slate gray ones. But no black ones, Pozzanghera said.

Don't tell that to Medical Lake resident Lindel Burns, who said he didn't believe in black cougars either until he saw one crossing the road about 13 miles north of Cusick in Pend Oreille County early last month.

It was in bright sunlight and ‘probably less than 100 yards’ away, he said.

Noting he has a cabin in the area and has hunted throughout the region for 30 years, Burns is confident he saw a black cougar, not an otter. ‘It was just too much of a cat to be anything else.’

An equipment maintenance supervisor for the National Guard, Burns said he was afraid to talk about what he saw for fear people would think he had been drinking. But he mentioned it at the Outpost Resort and Cafe near his cabin.

Manager Gary Brathovde said another customer who lives in the area heard the story and, flabbergasted, blurted out that he also had seen a black cougar in the same area as Burns four days earlier.

The customer couldn't be reached for comment, but Brathovde said the man had convinced himself he must have seen a bear.

Both sightings were near the Riverview Bible Camp.

Brathovde said several long-time residents say they’ve seen black cougars in the area years ago, but like Burns and the other recent witnesses, ’they generally don’t want to say anything because they're afraid people will call them nuts.’

Other sightings were reported in February 1997 near Asotin, Wash.

So many people have reported seeing black ‘panthers’ (a term often applied incorrectly to cougars) throughout the United States that they have been dubbed the ‘flying saucers of the animal world. ‘Folklorist Loren Coleman included a chapter on them in his 1983 book, ’Mysterious America. ‘ He found some common elements in hundreds of reported sightings: like UFO sightings, they often occur in waves in specific locations, and no one has ever caught a ‘phantom panther’ despite elaborate efforts.

Pozzanghera said one of those waves occurred about 1.5 years ago in the Olympia suburb of Lacey. He said tracking dogs that were taken to the exact spot where a big black cat was seen ‘basically said, `You're crazy.’'

Wildlife officers spent the better part of three months investigating repeated sightings of what came to be known as the ‘Lacey Ghost Cat,’ Pozzanghera said. No physical evidence was ever found. One person even confidently brought in a roll of film that showed nothing when developed.

‘Clearly, people that were reporting this weren't trying to cause problems,’ he said. ‘These were folks that truly believed they had spotted a cat in that area.’

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The Field Museum will receive the largest man-eating lion on record- a maneless male shot in 1991 by former Chicagoan Wayne Hosek while he was on safari in Zambia. Hosek will present the lion, still in its packing crate, to Bruce Patterson, the Museum's MacArthur Curator of Mammals. During the presentation, the crate will be partially opened and the lion's face will be revealed. Hosek and Patterson will be available for interviews.

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 10 a. m. WHERE: Rice Wildlife Center, on the Museum's main floor, west of Stanley Field Hall. Chicago's Field Museum is located at Lake Shore Drive and Roosevelt Road. Parking is available in the lot east of Soldier Field.

DETAILS: Known as the ‘Man-eater of Mfuwe’(pronounced Muh-FU-way), the lion killed six people prior to being shot by Hosek. Hosek, who now lives in West Hills, Calif., is donating the lion to the Museum. When a special exhibit featuring the man-eater opens in 1999, the animal's size is sure to impress visitors. It measures about 10 feet in length and its ear tips are nearly five feet from the floor.

The Field Museum is already home to the two notorious Man-eating Lions of Tsavo (pronounced SAH-vo) who killed about 128 Uganda Railway workers 100 years ago. The Tsavo lions (also maneless males) were the subject of the 1996 Paramount Pictures film, ’The Ghost and the Darkness. ‘ They are on exhibit in the Rice Wildlife Center, where the new lion will be presented. Field Museum scientists are working in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service in Tsavo National Park. Their work includes field studies and genetic surveys of lions. They will also excavate the ‘Man-eater's Den’ - a cave found littered with human bones 100 years ago. The location of the cave was rediscovered by Museum scientists in 1997. CONTACT: Field Museum Public Relations, 312-322-8859.

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BBC News Sept 1998

BIG CAT ALERT

A SEARCH for a ‘puma-style animal’ seen roaming in the north London suburbs of Potters Bar and South Mimms, will resume this morning. Police have advised locals to keep doors and windows closed.

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POLICE HUNT 'PUMA' IN SUBURBS 27 Sept 1998

Police have warned residents of two suburbs to keep their doors and windows closed after a large ‘puma-style animal’ was spotted at large.

Officers said people in Potters Bar and South Mimms, Hertfordshire, should not approach the cat ­ described as larger than a Labrador dog ­if they see it.

The alarm was raised on Friday evening after two members of the public separately reported seeing the creature roaming South Mimms.

A search of the area uncovered nothing, but late this afternoon two police officers saw a similar animal in a near by field. Again, a search began, including the use of a helicopter with heat-seeking equipment, but as night fell no big cat had been found.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the search would resume in the morning, and extra police patrols were being mounted overnight. The police, who are being assisted by the RSPCA, the Royal Veterinary College and London Zoo, earlier toured South Mimms and Potters Bar with a loudhailer, warning locals to keep doors and windows firmly shut.

The ‘puma-style’ cat is descried as sandy in colour, and having a tail longer than its body with a black ring at the tip.

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'BEAST OF BARNET' MAY HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR YEARS 27 Sept 1998

The mystery surrounding the sightings of a puma-like big cat on the northern fringes of London deepened today when it emerged that it might have been stalking the area for years.

Police officers toured South Mimms and Potters Bar, Hertfordshire on Saturday night, warning householders to keep doors and windows locked after the animal was spotted three times in two days.

Today Scotland Yard said the cat, dubbed the Beast of Barnet after the adjoining London borough, had been spotted over the past eight years across south Hertfordshire.

Up until now, sightings have been in wooded areas, well away from homes. But it was seen this weekend in fields near a residential area.

Teams of police, aided by a helicopter equipped with heat-seeking equipment, are searching the area for the cat, said to be larger than a Labrador dog. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Animal experts believe that such cats often appear at the same time each day to feed, and extra officers will be on hand in the event that the beast returns to the scene of previous sightings later today.’

The ‘puma-style’ animal is described as sandy in colour, and having a tail longer than its body with a black ring at the tip.

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Home Counties puma alert

Curator of Whipsnade Wild Animal Park Nick Lindsay told BBC News Online the cat - described as sandy in colour and having a tail longer than its body with a black ring at the tip - was probably too small to be a puma.

‘A puma is considerably larger than a Labrador. If it is a cat, it’s more likely to be a lynx or some breed of African wild cat, ’ he said. Unlike the Beast of Bodmin, the Potters Bar Puss is described as being sandy in colour Public safety.

RSPCA spokeswoman Charlotte Morrissey suggested that if the animal was a big cat, it was probably illegally imported and not part of an’ indigenous’ population. ‘These animals are usually brought into the country illegally by private collectors who then lose them or release them for some reason,’ she told BBC News Online. ‘If somebody lost it, they are unlikely to have reported it because it would lead to prosecution.’

Ms Morrissey hoped the animal could be caught alive. ‘There are problems associated with catching it live,’ she said. ‘We have to consider the animal's welfare, but the police have to consider public safety.’

The RSPCA is in consultation with a London Zoo vet about the best way to capture the creature, if and when it is found. It is thought that a sedative fired from a dart gun is the most likely solution.

'Core of truth'

Mr Lindsay said he was ‘sceptical but fascinated’ by big cat sightings in the UK.

‘It depends on the individual, but if a big cat had escaped it only has a slim chance of survival,’ he said.

‘Life in a cage is quite different to going out into the big bad world and hunting for yourself. In order for this creature to survive for any length of time, it would have to be part of a breeding population.’

He thought that there was probably a ‘core of truth’ to the hundreds of sightings of big cats in the UK - the most famous of which is the Beast of Bodmin Moor - but said even the police could be unreliable witnesses. ‘The sightings tend to come in spells, especially if there’s just been a programme on TV about it. ‘I have a colleague at London Zoo who was called out last year after the police spotted a 'big cat', only to find it was an ordinary ginger moggy,’ he said.

The RSPCA has already been called out to deal with a number of ‘exotic’ animals this year, including a Cayman crocodile found in Kent in August.

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28 Sept 1998

METROPOLITAN POLICE SERVICE Borehamwood, England

RE: SIGHTINGS OF A LARGE CAT- PUMA TYPE, SOUTH MIMMS

Dear Resident

On Friday afternoon Police received two reports from members of the public referring to sightings of an animal described as a cat which is larger than a Labrador dog. On Saturday afternoon two Police officers on patrol again saw the cat which has been identified from its description to be a puma. Sightings of this puma go back at least seven years. There have been no reported attacks on members of the public or livestock during this time.

Police have consulted with both the London Zoo and the RSPCA. So far the animal has avoided public attention. Our advice is not to approach the animal but report any sightings to Police using 999 on the telephone. If observation can be maintained from a safe distance this will be useful in assisting Police to track the animal.

When read please pass to your neighbour.

Yours sincerely

Hue Thornton Chief Superintendent Barnet and Hertsmere Division.

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Colleyville Panther Still Free - (COLLEYVILLE)

A panther that's been roaming the Tarrant County town of Colleyville is still on the prowl. The animal has been spotted twice in the past three days, but continues to elude authorities. Traps baited with meat are being set out in an effort to catch the big cat. Officials are warning residents in the area to keep children and pets indoors, as they theorise it may be hunting for food and water during the night-time hours. Texas Headlines Tuesday 25 August 1998

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Star Tribune of Minneapolis Published August 4, 1998

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WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (AP) - The hunt was on Tuesday for a lion reported wandering near the Sauk-Juneau County line west of Interstate 90-94.

After earlier unconfirmed sightings, a man reported seeing the animal come out of a field Monday night and go into woods across the highway from Rocky Arbor State Park, Sauk County Sheriff Virgil ‘Butch’ Steinhorst said.

According to the witness, the animal was ‘dark in color and had a long tail,’ Steinhorst said. 'The witness didn't know if it was a mountain lion or an African lion.'

Tracks were found, but it was not immediately clear what type of lion could be involved, he said. There have been no reports of a captive lion missing in the area, Steinhorst said.

The state Department of Natural Resources was setting up two barrel traps in hope of solving the mystery, the sheriff said. The barrels are left on their sides with bait inside and trip wires to catch the animal that goes after the bait. ‘We' re hoping that the barrel traps will tell us something by tomorrow morning,’ he said Tuesday.

Sauk County warden Scott Bowe said agriculture and wildlife officials have been looking into earlier reports.

A veterinarian has examined a pony that was killed in the area. Pawprints near the dead animal indicate some sort of canine, a coyote or a wild dog pack, killed the pony, Bowe said. ‘There was another calf or steer that was attacked by something,’ he added. ‘We really have no way of knowing what animal attacked it.’

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service controls whether African lions are allowed into the country. But Wisconsin has no laws governing the ownership of lions as a pet, and they are not protected by law in the state. ‘If somebody sees this lion and they shoot it, there's nothing that is going to happen to them, because it's not regulated,’ Bowe said.

Mountain lions once ranged the forests in much of North America. They have been known variously as cougar, catamount and panther. - 11 August 1998 Yahoo! State News Service

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Lion Hunt - Authorities in the Wisconsin Dells have set traps for what could be a mountain lion or a cougar. There have been several sighting over the past two weeks. . . including two drivers of tourist boats on the Wisconsin River. The state Department of Natural Resources is leading the search.

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Oct 3, 1998: Mysterious big cat shows up again

WISCONSIN DELLS (AP) - A big cat whose reported wanderings in the area caused concern and scepticism during the height of the summer tourist season has shown up again, a wildlife official says.

The cat has appeared at least twice since mid-Sept, said Bill Ishmael, a state Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist. Officials have said they believed the animal seen on the loose may be a cougar, or mountain lion.

Wisconsin Dells police were told of a sighting on Sept. 16 near State 16 . The cat also was reportedly seen Sept 21 along State 23, east of the city. ‘It sounds to me like the animal is across the Wisconsin River and may be making its way east or northeast from the Dells area, ’ Ishmael said.

This summer, big cat appearances were reported numerous times in Wisconsin Dells and west of the Dells, in Sauk Country. The sightings had stopped so abruptly in mid-August that some believed the animal was killed, wandered deeper into the countryside or never existed at all.

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Autopsy: Tiger preyed on humans... June 29, 1998

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - A man-eating tiger that terrorized Malaysian villagers had stalked humans because gunshot wounds left it unable to hunt wild game, according to an autopsy report.

The 310-pound tiger, estimated to be 25 years old, was shot by rangers Friday after it killed two men in villages near Sungei Siput, a town 90 miles north of Kuala Lumpur.

For a week before its death, villagers in the wooded mountains of northern Malaysia remained in barricaded huts and were guarded by armed police against the rampaging tiger. An autopsy showed the tiger could no longer prey on wild animals because more than 16 gunshot wounds by poachers had left it crippled, Sunday's New Straits Times reported, quoting Wildlife and National Parks Department spokesman Mohamad Faud Sharif. ‘This incident shows us that indiscriminate shooting of wild animals by hunters can endanger the lives of villagers, ’ he said.

The Malaysian tiger has been classified by the World Wildlife Fund as an endangered species. Hunting of the animal has been banned since 1972.

The Malaysian government estimates only 500 tigers are still alive, down from 5,000 in 1952.

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Electronic Telegraph Wednesday 26 August 1998

Big cats get a taste for illegal migrants

ILLEGAL immigrants from Mozambique attempting to cross the Kruger National Park to seek work in South Africa are being blamed for turning the reserve's lions and leopards into man-eaters.

Rangers say the predators, particularly the large cats, have found humans wandering about on foot to be much easier targets than even the smallest antelopes, which form their normal diet.

Dr Willem Gertenbach, Kruger's nature conservation manager, said: ’The problem is not the lions but the illegal immigrants. The big cats have not so much acquired the taste for human flesh but developed an instinct that people on foot are much easier to stalk and catch than, say, an impala. ‘

This was particularly true of older animals finding it difficult to hunt. The leopard that attacked, killed and ate a tour guide in the park at the weekend was found to be very old and desperately hungry. The guide, Charles Swart, 25, was conducting a night game-viewing drive near Malelane, in the south of the Kruger, a reserve the size of Wales. He had stopped the vehicle on a bridge and had walked only a few yards when the leopard pounced on his back, causing him to drop his rifle. After failing to frighten the animal away the tourists drove to a near by camp for help and armed rangers tracked and shot the leopard as it was still feeding on the guide's body.

No blame was attached to Mr Swart, the park's management or to the leopard. But the number of animal attacks on humans has increased sharply in recent years in direct proportion to the growing number of Mozambicans who try to cross the park to find a better life in South Africa.

Last month a ranger found 11-year-old Emelda Nkuna wandering in the bush near Punda Maria. She had set out from a Mozambique village to walk to South Africa with her mother and two sisters, who had been attacked by a pride of lions. She had hidden in the hole of a burrowing animal and heard her mother being eaten. Rangers later found her mother's remains but there was no trace of her sisters.

Seven other Mozambicans are known to have been attacked and eaten by lions in the past two years. ‘There’s a good possibility that many more refugees have died because sometimes we find abandoned luggage and torn clothes, ’ Dr Gertenbach said.

Park rangers are obliged to track and kill predators that have attacked humans. A ranger said: ‘A lion or leopard becomes a potential man-eater once it loses its natural fear of humans. ‘Last year, 2,600 illegal Mozambicans were arrested in the Kruger. The ranger said: ‘Unless action is taken by the governments concerned to stem this flow, we are going to have an ever increasing man-eater problem. ‘

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Selectmen Warn Residents to be on the Lookout for Mountain Lion

Associated Press, 15 August 1998

FRYEBURG, Maine (AP) - Selectmen are taking unconfirmed reports of mountain lion sightings seriously enough to warn residents to be on the lookout for something that 's not supposed to exist in Maine.

The last confirmed sighting of a mountain lion in Maine was in 1938.

But unconfirmed sightings in the Fryeburg area on the New Hampshire border were convincing enough for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to advise the Fryeburg Board of Selectmen to get the word out.

Selectman Brian Hill believes there may be a mountain lion, also known as a cougar or catamount, in the area.

‘This isn't a UFO case,’ said Hill, who is president of Fryeburg Fish and Game Club. ‘Some pretty reliable people say they've seen it through binoculars and there have been other sightings.'

June Irvine of Fryeburg Town Hall said the big cat has been spotted at the transfer station. And Hill said he was told that the cat was spotted in the Gorham or Berlin area in New Hampshire.

Paul Reynolds, formerly of Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Augusta, said there have been other reported sightings around the state over the past few years.

that includes a March 1996 case in which a woman saw what she thought was a mountain lion in Cape Elizabeth.

Game wardens who combed the area found some fur stuck on a tree. A laboratory performed tests on the strands of hair and confirmed it came from a mountain lion, Reynolds said. ‘Based on everything I've seen, there’s no doubt that there are cougars in Maine, ’ he said.

Kristine Bontatis, a biologist for New Hampshire Fish and Game, said it could be a case of someone releasing a pet in the wild. But she says there would not be enough of the animals to reproduce. ‘If a pet were released it could survive in this environment. There are simply not enough of them on this side of the country for viable reproduction, ’ Bontatis said.

Hill agrees that if there is a mountain lion in the area, then someone must have put it there. ‘There’s no way a mountain lion got here unless someone released it, ’ he said.

{Published in Portland's Maine Sunday Telegram, 16 August 1998 , page 4B.}

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Yahoo! News - Colorado Headlines Tuesday 18 August 1998

Mountain Lion Warning - (WHEAT RIDGE) - There is a warning for those in Wheat Ridge... a mountain lion is on the loose. Police says there were two weekend sightings.

One man says the cat was in his backyard drinking from a pond before his two dogs scared the animal off. Another man says he opened his door and saw the lion standing a few feet away before it ran off. Wildlife officials think the animal may have wandered into the neighborhood from the Table Mountain area. Wheat Ridge police warn people to keep pets inside at night until the mountain lion is caught.