ACUSHNET (WBSM) — Could there be a mountain lion roaming through Acushnet? There are a few people in town who say absolutely.

Olivia Audet said she was looking out the window of her in-laws’ kitchen on Perry Hill Road at about 6 a.m. this morning, which overlooks their backyard and that of a neighbor.

“Both yards are fairly open with little vegetation,” Audet told WBSM.

That’s when she saw something that caught her eye.

“At first I didn’t know what I was looking at, because I could hardly believe it, but it was as tall as a medium-sized dog, tan in color, not at all fuzzy or fluffy,” she said. “As soon as it started going towards the back road, I realized it could only be a mountain lion based off its slinky movements.”

Audet said she Googled photos to make sure she wasn’t confusing a bobcat or some other large animal for a mountain lion.

“From what I saw, it was a mountain lion,” she said. “It had no fluff or markings, it was purely tan in color. I wish I had my phone on me.”

Audet said others have seen it as well.

“I saw the neighbor driving down his road and called out to him, ‘Mountain lion?!’ and he stopped his truck and said he caught it on a trail cam on Friday night around 11:30 p.m.,” she said.

“My mother-in-law also spotted it on April 25 around 11 p.m. but didn’t quite believe what she was seeing,” Audet said, “Until I told her what I saw.”

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Her mother-in-law, Margie Verissimo, described her encounter that night to WBSM.

“When I pulled into my driveway, I saw quickly out of the corner of my eye something run into the back of our side yard. I saw the tail and it was a tan color,” she said. “I remember thinking ‘what was that?’ since the tail seemed bigger than a cat’s would be.”

Verissimo said her “dog has been barking a lot lately,” but they thought it was just the wild turkeys roaming around Perry Hill Road.

“Maybe she is spooked by this other animal as well,” she said.

Has There Been a Mountain Lion in Massachusetts?

According to MassWildlife, “There is no evidence of a reproducing mountain lion population in Massachusetts.”

The group says mountain lions, also known as cougars, “became scarce in the East after a bounty system wiped out most predatory animals.”

MassWildlife said that while it does get reports of mountain lions, many of them are mistaking another animal for one, and that when the organization has received photos, none of them equal a Bay State sighting.

“All these photos were taken in a state other than Massachusetts. Some of these photos have taken on urban legend status,” MassWildlife stated on its website.

According to MassWildlife, there have only been two confirmed mountain lion cases in Massachusetts in recent years “that meet the evidence requirements.”

The first was in April 1997, when an experience tracker found scat near a beaver carcass at the Quabbin Reservation. Two different labs confirmed the scat sample came from a mountain lion.

The second was in March 2011, when in the area of the Quabbin Reservoir, fresh tracks were spotted in the snow and were determined by four different tracking experts to be made by a mountain lion.

“These tracks may have been made by the mountain lion documented in Greenwich, Connecticut on June 5, 2011, and killed by a vehicle six days later,” MassWildlife said.

MassWildlife Expert Says No Way It Was a Mountain Lion

Dave Wattles, who is the Black Bear & Furbearer Biologist for MassWildlife and our go-to guy for wild animal sightings, said he doubts it was a mountain lion.

“I’d bet my left arm it is a bobcat or a domestic cat people have seen,” he told WBSM. “There are no mountain lions in Massachusetts or the eastern US. The closest population is in South Dakota.”

He said the mountain lion that was hit and killed in Connecticut in 2011 “dispersed from South Dakota” and “left a trail of evidence across Michigan, New York and Massachusetts.”

Wattles said there is no such evidence for any of the reported sightings in Massachusetts.

“I remind folks there are literally millions of cell phone cameras, tens to hundreds of thousands of securing and Ring cameras, tens to hundreds of thousands of trail cameras and zero photos,” he said. “Also no physical evidence, tracks, kills, etc.”

“Every year we get reports from the public of mountain lions. If someone has a photo it is either a bobcat, house cat, fox, golden retriever – never an actual mountain lion from Massachusetts,” he said. “Or people will have a photo of a mountain lion that is from another part of the country, sometimes innocent, sometimes intentional hoax.”

“Folks will also send a photo of a bobcat and swear it is a mountain lion and that is really just a lack of knowledge of what a bobcat or mountain lion actually is,” he said.

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