Here we go again... another cougar hoax, but this one is spreading like wildfire thanks to technology. Local people in southern Erie County are getting cell phone texts with a photo of a deceased cougar on the back of a pickup truck (allegedly a Conservation Law Enforcement Officer's truck) . Depending on the sender, the text may or may not contain details designed to make the hoax more believable, such as the weight ( 196 lbs) or the DEC tag in its ear. Reportedly hit by a car at the corner of route 39 and Savage Road in the town of Sardinia- a place where cougars frequent (where is my "sarcasm" font when I need it?)
So where is the media on this? When the young couple hit a black bear on the 400 expressway in East Aurora, the media was all over that for days, and black bears are fairly common in the area. Yet a cougar in a place where they are not indigenous gets no coverage? Hmmm... that might be a red flag there. Reporters like to be able to have facts to base their stories on - there must be no facts, only fiction here. With all the snow on the ground, there must be extensive cougar tracks in the area, right? Surely it didn't fall out of the sky into the road.
OK, so then maybe the DEC confiscated it in their on-going effort to deny releasing cougars in the area (sarcasm font again) . They are accused of releasing cougars, they are accused of releasing coyotes too. The fact is, they haven't released either. State and Federal laws prohibit the release of non-indigenous animals into an area without extensive research, public meetings, etc. and then, there is the question - WHY?? What would be the end result? To control the coyotes (hahahaha!) no. Cougars won't control coyotes. Control the deer? I thought there weren't enough deer because the coyotes were eating them all (sarcasm font again)
Lets look at the photo that is circulating. Notice the hunting dog boxes in the bed of the truck, not customary or standard in the DEC trucks. Notice the red spot behind the cougar's left elbow- looks like a gunshot wound to the vitals, perhaps done while shooting the cougar out of a tree after it was treed by the dogs- in a state where it is legal to do so (not legal in New York). Look at the bloodied inside right front paw, possibly done by the dogs after the cougar fell dead out of the tree, or perhaps the lethal heart/lung shot sprayed blood on the chest and down the inside of the front leg. How could being hit by a car broadside cause an injury on the inside of a leg? If a large cat was hit by a car going the posted 35 mph along this road, the cat most likely would have survived, especially since it obviously wasn't hit in the head. But lets just say the driver was speeding and wacked him good- probably would have totaled the car, and the cat would have been pretty mangled to have been killed. This cat just has a little red spot on its side behind the front leg and a bloodied inside leg. Look at the snowmobiles in the background. This photo evidence looks like it was taken in a field out west. Check out other cougar hoaxes on http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/44564.html or http://www.snopes.com/photos/hunting/mountainlion.asp
There is always the outside chance that someone had a pet cougar that escaped. There is opportunity to buy all kinds of exotic animals at Mt Hope auctions in spring and fall. Possibly, but a cougar of this size, looks to be an adult male, would hardly make it to this size without being noticed at some point in someones home. However, noting the other clues given by the photo, i.e. the nature of the injuries this is likely not the case.
Someone is having a great deal of fun by creating this hoax and they sure do have a lot of people believing it- good job, whoever you are- people really are gullible some times! Why not do one with Bigfoot next?