Cole Sighting

Try telling Gary Cole of Athol that Eastern cougars are extinct. He saw one cross the road in front of him. So did his wife.

In a neat, flawless, hand-written letter, Cole recounted his summer sighting that occurred around 7 p.m. as the couple crossed the Route 202 bridge crossing the Millers River. About 40 yards up the road, just past the east end of the bridge, Cole spotted an animal moving left to right toward the road, obviously contemplating a leap over the fence to cross. He assumed it was a deer but soon knew otherwise when it appeared in the road in front of him in full broadside display. Sightings get no better than broadside in the middle of a highway.

“The first thing I noticed was the tail,” Cole wrote. “It looked as long as the animal itself.”

Typical of all cougar sightings, the defining feature was the long tail; it’s always all about the long tail and large body of the big cat.

As the “four- to five-foot-long animal” passed, it looked straight at the Coles, providing them with a rare sighting. He described it as dark tan with a darker underbelly.

“It came from a swampy area and jumped the fence to a swampy area on the other side of the road,” wrote Cole. “I said to my wife, ‘Did you see that?’ She said, ‘Yes,’ and that it looked nothing like the bobcat we had seen at our house.”

What surprised Cole most was the location of his sighting, a “fairly well-populated place in the Athol/Orange area. I can see why people might balk at telling about seeing something like this, but it made a believer out of me.”

Another believer in a place where the experts think they ought to be institutionalized, or at least prescribed meds, because “Eastern cougars have been extinct for more than a century.”

That’s the official response.

Go figure.

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