Mountain lion reported loose in Ohio
People in and around Canton, Ohio, are reporting seeing a mountain lion similar to this one.
July 5th, 2011
03:03 PM ET

Mountain lion reported loose in Ohio

Police and wildlife officers in Canton, Ohio, were still looking Tuesday for a mountain lion reportedly seen roaming the area on Independence Day.

The first panicky call about the big predator came in about 4:45 p.m. Monday, Canton police Capt. David Kurzinsky said.

Stark County sheriff's deputies joined the search after sightings came in from outside the city, and an Ohio State Highway Patrol plane was employed, Kurzinsky said. They didn't find anything.

"We don't believe it's a hoax, but right now none of our officers are seeing what (callers) are seeing," he said.

Calls continued to come in Tuesday. They seemed to indicate that the animal is moving east, toward the town of Louisville.

Once word gets around that a predator could be on the loose, phantom calls tend to start pouring in, said Jamey Graham, spokeswoman for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

"People call in if they see a big house cat or a dog that's a similar color" to a mountain lion, she said.

Mountain lions, also known as cougars or pumas, are tawny colored, stand 2 to 2.5 feet tall at the shoulder, weigh 110 to 180 pounds, and have a thick tail 2 to 2.5 feet long, according to a Defenders of Wildlife fact sheet.

Someone sent a blurry photo to the Stark County Sheriff's Office, but it wasn't much help, Graham said.

"There's no characteristics that lead me to believe it's a mountain lion," she said. "lt looks like a house cat to me."

Police are assuming the mountain lion is wild, even though there is no sustainable native population in Ohio. Nevertheless, a fair number of people do keep mountain lions as pets, and they are not regulated under state law, Graham said.

Police checked with an area resident who owns exotic animals, but the man said he didn't own a mountain lion, and none of his other animals were missing, Kurzinsky said.

As a precaution, Canton police were keeping people out of the Fairhope Nature Preserve, near where the animal was first reported, Kurzinsky said. The 70-acre preserve was just dedicated on Earth Day, April 30, according to Canton's newspaper, The Repository.

It's possible someone dumped an unwanted captive mountain lion in the preserve, Graham said. One clue supporting that theory is that the cat is being seen in daylight, and wild mountain lions are nocturnal.

"This animal, if in fact it's an escapee, doesn't behave like a wild mountain lion," she said.

See CNN affiliate WJW-TV's coverage of the hunt

The situation is not as dangerous as it may seem, Graham said.

"It's nothing to be too terribly scared about except to keep your children indoors and don't leave your pets unattended," she said.

Kurzinsky urged members of the public to be cautious and call 911 immediately if they see the big cat.

"We hope as people call in we can get there in time, while it's still there," he said. "We have someone with a tranquilizer gun who we're hoping can tranquilize it, and then we can relocate it to a safer place."

That could mean taking it to a big-cat rescue center, but none has offered to accept the animal, Graham said.

Although mountain lions are uncommon, they are not considered an endangered species in Ohio, she said. That being the case, "if it creates a human safety hazard, it can be shot," she said.

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Filed under: Animals • Mountain lions • Ohio • U.S.
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. taylor

    I think that who ever had this anamal is stupid cause now it is going to go kill things abd mabey people so I think everyone should be safe

    July 6, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joshua

    I live in southwest ohio and i have heard of this mountain lion as well, there are several and it is no secret its there i heard it did escape from a man that owned it i also heard local teens were feeding it (stupid) but this is not new

    July 7, 2011 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. RLD

    COUGAR say it with me people COUGAR. There is no such thing as a mountain lion

    July 7, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Gina

      Cougars have many names, all of which are correct. Mountain lion, cougar, puma, catamount, panther... they are all the same animal. Just different names depending which region of the US you live in.

      July 17, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. ashey

    I think they need to find it because why let it go and run off some were and what if it bit or eat some than whos flaut would it be. they need to find it and take it back to its own home:(

    July 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. wendy

    If this is not as bad as people say why do we have to keep out children inside? I want my kids to have a fun summer so I want this horrible beast cought!!!

    July 8, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      I say, keep your horrible beasts inside and let the cougar roam free. I'd rather see it than your screaming snot nosed brats.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sarah

    If the animal came from where I think it came from it has NO claws and does not no how to hunt! The ppl mentioned that's said they didn't have a mountain lion indeed did have one! They ripped its claws out when it was younger! It MIGHT approach humans for food seeing as it doesn't know how to hunt for its own food! The very 1st sighting was in the woods BEHIND where it MIGHT of came from! Not for sure that where it came from but it is very likely! There are other wild animals there that r declawed n have no defense!

    July 9, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. tobin

    keepin an eye out

    July 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rita

    Why is the Ohio Division of Wildlife trying to pretend they don't know that Cougars live here in Ohio? Dah! Cougars lived here in Ohio back in the days of the early settlers and before. So early Americans had to kill them to protect their farm animals, themselves and their families. They thinned them out a great deal. But big cats are extremely territorial. The cats aren't very social with other big cats. A male can have a territory as large as 300 miles! That's 1 male courgar to find within a 300 mile area.You won't find lots of signs of these cats even after a sighting. All cats are very stealthy. You'd have to really scour the area to find tracks. There have been unexplained sightings all over eastern and southern Ohio for many years. Very rececently too. Ohio Valley National Park incident on hiking trail..woman walking dog. Lucky the huge cat walked into the woods and wasn't interested in her or her dog. Must have just pigged out on a nice deer. People see them crossing roads. Very close to Cleveland too. They are always blown off. The state of Ohio isn't about to spend all the money it would cost to track a courgar. Advice to hikers in Ohio and campers as well, walk tall..VERY, VERY TALL to show any silent stalking big cat you are BIG, and, CARRY A BIG STICK!!! It's bound to happen one of these days. Someone is going to have to fight one to survive. Be vigilant out there in the nature trails. Have a good time but just be prepared.

    July 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GT66

    "We don't believe it's a hoax, but right now none of our officers are seeing what (callers) are seeing," he said." Well I guess they won't since mountain lions don't regularly eat at donut shops.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary Greene

      Thats funny I don't care who you are.

      August 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Toughnutz

    umm you all are idiots. do any of u even have a wildlife background or degree??? let me say this once in big bold letters for u. FACT: THERE ARE NOOOOO MOUNTAIN LIONS IN THE STATE OF OHIO!!! no state or federal officals are releasing them for any reason because its AGAINST THE LAW!!! everyone needs to calm down we dont have wolves, or mountain lions in this state. we dont have suitable habitat to support either of these large predators. everyone needs to bring the crazy down quite a bit.

    October 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • lorna

      WAKE UP...... coyotes and mountain lions are in Ohio area my friend lives in Westlake Ohio and saw a coyote in his backyard I also saw a dead bear lying by the side of the road and that was about 20yrs ....coyotes have been released into the area by insurance companies....yes that's what I said....because deers were causing numerous car and property damage, there was also a serious rat problem by the lake area of course where the rich live to the coyotes will take care of that......as well as our pets......we are surrounded by morons in this country.....coyotes have a mouth full of bacteria and one did go after a woman and her dog out in Strongsville in the daylight unprovoked....so there you have it.....I will just shoot the dam thing if it comes in my yard...

      October 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
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