Despite several sightings throughout the state, there has never been proof that mountain lions live in New Hampshire... until now. Rosemary Conroy talks about the latest addition to the Squam Lake Natural Science Center.
Welcome to this week's edition of Something Wild.
I'm Rosemary Conroy for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
And I have proof at last that there are mountain lions in this state. I have photos. I can get you prints - even scat.
OK - I didn't say there are mountain lions living in the wild in New Hampshire - the ones I witnessed are over at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness.
The Center recently obtained two cougar kittens that were orphaned in Montana last winter. They are beautiful animals and quite mesmerizing. They helped me understand why some people are rather possessed by the idea that mountain lions still live on in New Hampshire.
So do catamounts, as they are more commonly called, exist here? Well the last definite sign was from the cat that was shot in Rochester back in the 90s - the 1890s that is.
Since then, biologists have pretty much concluded that this native wild cat has been extirpated, a fancy term for "killed off", in New Hampshire. Large predators like catamounts were just not popular with early settlers - they preyed upon deer that people wanted to eat, and when those were gone, started in on sheep and cows. Smart as they were, they couldn't compete with guns.
But yet, throughout the years, sightings of catamounts have persisted. But without definitive proof, like a good print or scat sample, it could never be proved that real wild mountain lions still roam New Hampshire.
And as catamounts are solitary, nocturnal creatures that travel over large territories, they are never easy to find, even when they are numerous.
No, I think the best chances most of us have of seeing a real live catamount, at least in the near future, is to head over to Holderness and check out those two wild kittens.
They're worth the price of admission.
Something Wild is a joint production of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, NHPR, and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire.
For Something Wild, I'm Rosemary Conroy.