A biology professor from Rhode Island got a big, furry surprise recently when driving in the North Country.
It is called a mountain lion.
NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.
Jim Chace is a biology professor at a university in Rhode Island.
He was driving south on Route 3 from Lancaster towards Whitefield just south of the White Mountains Regional High School.
It was daylight.
There weren’t any cars ahead of him.
Then, it happened.
“Smack right in front of my car, running out ahead across the road was a large cat.”
Chace got a good look.
“It was far enough ahead where I didn’t have to tap the brakes, but it was close enough where it was clear what it was. I mean the thing took up three quarters of the lane going across.”
And, he knew what it was.
“I’ve seen mountain lions before out West. So, it was just that tawny color, you know, standing about as tall as a very large dog but it has got a small head and it has got this nice, broad, level back with a long tail. There is nothing else that has those features in North America.”
Then, it was gone.
Steve Weber is a wildlife expert with New Hampshire Fish and Game and he says Chace could, indeed, have had had a close encounter of the mountain-lion kind.
“It is possible. There was a wild mountain lion killed on a road down in Connecticut a couple of years ago.”
But Weber says Fish and Game doesn’t have any proof that a mountain lion being spotted in the state is anything more than a a big cat passing through or possibly a pet turned loose by its owner.
“But we are convinced that we don’t have a native population of mountain lions. Mountain lions leave a lot of sign. They are quite noticeable. They show up here and there when it fact they are present in a state and we just haven’t seen that.”
Chace says he isn’t surprised that there could be mountain lions in Northern New England. There are plenty of deer and thick woods that would provide cover for the big predators.
Only one thing surprises him. That he got the chance to see one.
For NHPR News this is Chris Jensen