Woodland stream.

A Cougar in Ohio?

Ohio has gone cougar crazy. One blurry photo of a house cat made the news earlier this month alleging a cougar was on the loose, and now residents claim to be seeing big cats every where. There is even a website set up for neighbors to map their cougar complaints (see map). Some want the cat tracked and killed while others believe there's a better chance of finding Big Foot in the woods than a cougar. To add fuel to the fire, quotes from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were apparently taken out of context in a newspaper article and appear to be encouraging the killing of any cougar that shows up in the state.

To put things in perspective, California has thousands of mountain lions and over 36 million people. That's 72 million eyeballs scanning the horizon for cougars -- in the state with the largest cougar population -- and still sightings are rare. The California Department of Fish & Game found at one point in time that less than 20% of reported cougar sightings were actually of cougars. Coyotes, bobcats, house cats, large dogs, and even deer are commonly mistaken for cougars in the brush. And of the confirmed cougar encounters, less than 3% result in the cat being shot to maintain public safety. Most incidents can be resolved by giving the cat time and space to move back into the wild on its own, and then providing local residents with some educational materials to help them better understand coexisting with cougars.

Not only are the odds of a cougar showing up in Ohio extremely rare, but the chance a single solitary cat would pose a threat to public safety is nearly impossible. The house cat in the photo is probably a bigger danger at this point.
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