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. kay

    I reported seeing a mountain lion while driving on the 76 west toward Youngstown from Akron. The cat was on the side of the freeway dragging a dead deer up the embankment. I called the police, I believe in Rootstown or Ravenna, and they were not shocked at all and mentioned that others had made reports of a big cat in the area. Then they had a state official, game warden maybe, call me and take my report. He clearly doubted that I saw a big cat. The shoulder of a cat, house cat or big cat, is distinctive. Any other sightings or stories from that area?

    July 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • LadyGreenEyes

      There are tons of reports like yours. The whole idea that these cats are "extinct" east of the Mississippi is ridiculous. People see them all the time, and KNOW they live in their areas. The cougar is highly adaptable, and can live in virtually any terrain known in the United States. Deserts, swamps, forests, snow; you name it, they can adapt. I have read, too many times, that F&G people have told someone who reported a sighting, that they know the animals live there, but "officially", they say they aren't around. The sightings get blamed on "escaped pets", if confirmed, or "mis-identification" if not. Because, yeah, most of us are just too stupid to know a cougar from a house cat.....NOT! The cougar is, once again, all over the US, and the authorities, probably pushed by animal rights nuts, are denying it. Logically, when they state the animals aren't there, but they are not listed as endangered, someone is lying!

      July 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louisville

      I live on 44 north of Louisville and something got a dog on the side of 44 toward Columbus Rd overnight.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick Fury

      hey i work in akron!

      October 9, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jane Martin

    Send it to Florida on Thursday to greet Casey Anthony when she walks out of jail.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy

    @kay:
    Well, what on earth did they think you *saw* dragging a dear deer up an embankment?
    Sheesh!

    July 5, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jennifer

    They are in Ohio we had one chase our dog and my husband got a good look at the cat a few weeks ago check out this webpage http://www.ohiomountainlionwatch.wetpaint.com

    July 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • LadyGreenEyes

      Thanks for posting the link! Good to see people calling out the official lie that they "aren't there"! They are all over the east. Cousin in Kentucky states the same, and others have as well.

      July 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ZaCloud

    Um, dude, why are they looking for it? The response to "I saw a mountain lion!" should be "Great, good to know the native population is stabilizing, enjoy the sight."

    It belongs here. It should get to stay. And no need to keep the kids indoors, just keep an eye on them (like you're supposed to do anyway). Way to sound like it's a big friggin' panic. There's probably five other cougars who have been living peacefully among everyone in the area for years, just haven't happened to be seen.

    Though granted, if it IS a runaway ex-captive (which is yet ANOTHER of HUNDREDS of reasons that big cats should NOT be kept in captivity, where's the darn laws already?), then it COULD be a danger, and would need to be taken in by a rescue. I just hope that if it can live in the wild, that it evades capture and gets to do so.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • DillyRat

      very well said... I couldn't agree more

      July 6, 2011 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick Fury

      yeah maybe we could live peacefully with bears and lions, and have them over for dinner. m0r0n.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. CSnSC

    Zacloud, i'm all for re-establishing species but big cats prey on people. Look it up, They attack hikers and even bike riders in suburban areas of California frequently and have to be hunted and killed.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • DillyRat

      They were here first...

      July 6, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
  7. A Local

    I live a block from the park mentioned. It is NOT closed. 30th St entrance is open. I spent the day fishing, there, and never saw an officer of any variety. Yes, the "main" entrance on Lesh is closed, but that entrance has never been open to the public.
    Now, is a cougar 'big game,' under DNR rules? Or a pest. I could use a rug.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tom

    so what is hln going to do now for ratings and what was up with the clips shown just before 700 est you people nancy grace etal.. are probably a reason she got off could you just once show boths sides of a story. and just so you know i am as mad as anyone that she got off

    July 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gung hoe

    Its been awhile but mayby 10ys ago we had numerous reports no one can logically deny their existense just a couple years we had a wolverine in our state of michigan it was proven a fellow used one of them trail camara to take pictures of it cool mayby one of your hairless nuts could give that a try

    July 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    Shoot it Ned, it's coming right for us!

    July 5, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • DillyRat

      LOLS 😀

      July 6, 2011 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mr Magoo

    I remember driving my Studebaker somewhere in Ohio in the 60s..thought I ran over a mountain lion,turned out to be a tabby... .

    July 5, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jazzzzzzzz

    MORON! Stop using my name. You troll.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. Wolverine

    Probably was me.

    July 6, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. Flint Rock

    Once in a while someone "might" see a bobcat. The only plausible explanation is that it escaped or was dumped by
    a "pet owner" who got tired of feeding the poor feline.
    Come on, man! Its just like Big Foot, Lochness Monster or your last scary nightmare. Either you have a verifiable picture,
    catch one or have a body – you know, that proof thing . . . ? However, I was caught and just released by 3-Headed owners of a flying teacup – who won that Casey trial?

    July 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jill

    I live in SW Ohio and it is well known that mountain lions have been released into the surrounding rural counties to control the deer population. Trust me it is VERY well known by locals and law enforcement officials. When I first moved to my house 18 years ago there were some cat like tracks in my yard. At the time it was a fairly rural area close to a nature preserve. I called the State Wildlife officer who told me there were no mountain lions in the area and I was probably just seeing things. Really? A day later some 30 miles away a mountain lion tore the hell out of someones trash can. I guess it doesn't matter what part of the state you live in there is a general denial from state officials. I don't understand why they don't just fess up. Maybe they are afraid of panicing people. Hmmm. I don't know the reason but I do know that when I am out walking at a park or elsewhere I don't want to be suprised by a mountain lion that "supposedly" doesn't exist. Just one more way the government keeps things from its citizens.

    July 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack

      The State Officials deny it because they don't want to have to set aside any budget money to protect the animals...They deny it up in Vermont and my buddy has seen them several times while finishing his logging. And When I was up there I heard one Growl. Maybe some day I will see one..There have been numerous sightings in Western Mass near the Quabbin Reservoir and they recovered a corpse of one too..

      July 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
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