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Possible wild cat spotted

POSTED: August 12, 2009 9:00 a.m.
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Residents are wondering if an animal spotted recently in north Forsyth could have been a mountain lion, like the one above.

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Tina Walker was enjoying a quiet Sunday night with her husband when something strange walked through the couple's backyard.

Walker, who lives in the Shannon Glen subdivision in northern Forsyth County, said she looked out her window again and saw what appeared to be a large wild cat scratching its ear.

“I jumped up and I said, ‘What the heck is that out there?' You could see its head. It was huge and it had pointed ears and it was tan color,” she said.

Walker said the animal jumped up when she opened the back door. The cat was slender and stood 2 to 3 feet tall from the ground to its back.

“It had this huge, long tail,” she said. “It looked at us and it ran back into the woods.”

She searched the Internet for photos of similar-looking animals. From what she found, the animal resembled a puma, mountain lion or cougar. She said her neighbors hadn’t seen it.

She contacted the Georgia Department of Natural Resources on Monday about the cat.

Scott Frazier, a wildlife biologist with the DNR in Gainesville, said he plans to visit Walker’s home to search for signs of the animal.

He said he hasn’t received any other recent reports from Forsyth County about a large cat, and the likelihood is slim that the animal is some sort of wild cat.

“In this business, lots of people see things that they can’t quite figure out what it is and a vast majority of times it turns out to be either something we can not explain or erroneous in some fashion,” he said.

“But we try not to discount them, particularly if we get multiple sightings from a geographic area.”

He said the only native cat with a significant population in the state is the bobcat.

Still, sightings similar to Walker's have been frequent this summer in north Georgia, including Hall, Lumpkin, White and Barrow counties.

The last confirmed mountain lion sighting in Georgia was in 1973. Hunting, urbanization and other factors may have contributed to the species’ disappearance.

North America’s mountain lion population is mostly concentrated in the Western U.S., though Florida does have a small population of panthers.

Frazier said anyone who sees an animal matching the description of Walker's should contact the DNR and, if possible, take a photo.

Walker said the cat wasn’t aggressive and didn’t try to approach her or her husband. Apparently, other animals on her property have also noticed the animal.

“I always had trouble with squirrels in my birdfeeder, but I noticed I didn’t see any squirrels this weekend,” she said.

 

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