Eastern Catamount Declared Extinct

In March of 2011, the Eastern Catamount was declared officially extinct by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

In 2011, Vermont forests and wildlife have rebounded from massive deforestation which was a result of economic activity in the 1800’s that included the cutting/burning of trees for potash and sheep grazing. There have been many reports of mountain lions in the Green Mountains spanning the years since 1881 when forested tracts started to return and the last officially recognized Eastern Panther the “Barnard Monster” was shot and killed.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Is the Catamount Really Gone?

Bennington County, VT. Fall 2011 Sighting. Greg Van Houten.


I have been meaning to get you details on my encounter with a real live Mountain Lion, Of course, I can't verify that it was a native Catamount, but it was a lion and I saw it up close. 

It occurred on October 13, 2011. I was traveling north in North Bennington just around dusk. From the Bennington College side of the road came something at a full gate which caused me to abruptly jump on my brake pedal. As I came to a stop, a Mountain Lion ran across just in front of my car. It was as wide as the traffic lane including the tail . I would compare it to a large German Shepherd in size, though lower to the ground. It's color was a rich light brown, small rounded ears turned back from a small round head and the tail was thick like an ocean grade tie line. No spots. I actually had my camera on the front seat, but by the time I had it turned the lion was long gone.

If you travel the road you will see a low spot where the creek leads to the swamp. That is where he/she crossed and disappeared into what looks like a well worn wildlife trail. 


 Bennington County, VT.  Winter 1993. Anonymous.

My personal experience with a mountain lion. Initially the first time I was driving home at night in December, it was probably 1993 & the road I live on is rural & I saw for less than a second and a half an animal cross the road in front of me that came out of the side of the road and it touched the yellow line and was gone in a flash. It was long, lean and had a three foot long tail.This was at night and the headlights were on the animal & I would have gone back to look for tracks but there wasn't any snow.

 Do you remember the color?
Tawny-beautiful and there was no mistaking it when you see one-You know a coyote has a puffy tail and a deer has a white short tail and there is nothing else that has a three foot long tail that looks like a sausage.  There was no way I was going to catch a glimpse in the woods it was dark. I was amazed and ecstatic-never thought I would see one again. 


Bennington County, VT. Summer 2013. A. Mishkin.

"It jumped out in front of me, I hit the brakes!" -

Adirondacks, NY. 2000. R. VanOrden.

  Cat sighting:  It was about 13 years ago, in the Adrondacs somewhere between Long Lake and Tupper lake. It was just after dark (I forgot the month but it wasn't in the winter) and the cat ran across the road in front of my car. At first I thought it was a deer because of its size, but then I noticed the tail.  There is no mistaking that tail. It was a catamount.    And then it was gone.  

 Cheshire, MA. 2012. L.R.
We were biking a trail in Cheshire headed towards Adams, the cougar walked out in front of us, it still had spots on it and in four strides it was gone. The following evening we went back and where the cougar was, two white tail deer were grazing. We did report this two weeks after the episode. We debated telling people because we did not want anyone to hunt or hurt this animal! The spots were that of a young cougar but it still had the long tail, ears and body of an eastern mountain lion.

The Barnard Monster. Williams Tefft Schwarz. Bennington Museum Collection

-Send In Your Catamount Stories-

To The Bennington Museum 

-Artist and Bennington native Daniel Richmond has devised a conceptual, community based art project to collect stories from local residents of recent catamount sightings. In addition to a call for catamount sightings, which will be shared with museum visitors, the exhibit will include fragments of recycled Vermont marble sidewalks carved by Richmond with disjointed accession numbers, vestiges of the museum's formal cataloging system. 

After the exhibition is over Richmond will give the markers to individuals who share their story of a catamount sighting with the museum. These individuals will then be asked to place the markers at the location that their sighting occurred and provide a photograph of the marker in situ to the museum. In doing this Richmond draws upon Bennington's rich legacy of historic markers and Vermonters' love of their land and its native flora and fauna, while simultaneously validating the stories, which are so often dismissed as lore by the public at large-

-Jamie Franklin, Curator Bennington Museum. 2013.

 Stories can be sent to: jfranklin@benningtonmuseum.org richmondsculpture@yahoo.com 

Bennington Museum 75 Main Street, Bennington, Vermont 05201
Link to entire article

A project in collaboration with Jamie Franklin, Curator of the Bennington Museum and People of the New England Region.

2013. Marble Story Marker. Re-purposed Sidewalk Fragment.



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