In Colrain

It took a while for a spring cougar sighting in Colrain to reach this space, but here it is, brought to my attention a few weeks ago by longtime friend and Shelburne selectman Joe Judd, himself an outdoor writer.

The date of the sighting isn’t clear and the woman who made it wasn’t real forthcoming with information. “This doesn’t need to be in any newspaper,” said an objecting Gerry Vight, who lives in Griswoldville, graduated from Arms Academy “100 years ago,” and wasn’t interested in revealing her age, her maiden name or much else of a personal nature. But, after devoting two months to similar Franklin County cougar sightings, I figured I couldn’t just ignore it.

The sighting occurred “before there were leaves on the trees,” according to Vight, who was walking toward the woods in her backyard with husband Lloyd. Two weeks later, presumably the animal was seen by the Vight’s neighbor crossing adjacent Call Road. “Must have been coming up from the (North) river,” Gerry Vight said.

The big cat witnessed by the Vights was headed in the opposite direction, coming down off the mountain, the other side of which would put you in Shelburne’s Patten District. As an amateur photographer who has taken snapshots of wildlife and hilltown landmarks for decades, Ms. Vight was prepared, carrying a digital camera and binoculars. “I carry a camera at all times,” she said in her hilltown twang. “Never know what you’re going to see; had a bear in my backyard last night.”

Vight said she and her husband would have never seen the cat had it not jumped from one large stone to another, about 200 feet away. She tried to get a photo as it sat on the rock but her camera was out of auto-focus and the animal was too far away for her 3X lens. “If I had my 10X, I would have had it,” she quipped. “But all I got was a picture of the limbs in front of me and a blurry cat.

“We watched it through binoculars. It was a cat, a big cat, just sitting there on the rock, looking around. We both got a good look at it, at least five feet long. ”

Asked if she considered calling anyone to report the sighting, she replied, “Call someone? Who? By the time anyone got there, it would have been gone. I like nature. No reason to call anyone.”

One of the first people the Vights told about their sighting was Colrain road boss James Sturgeon. “He’s quite a hunter, you know,” said Gerry Vight. “He told us no one would believe us unless we had a picture.”

Strugeon was right. Few people took the Vights’ sighting or the newspaper report seriously, despite the fact that so many local residents with no reason to lie have reported similar observances, many in the Colrain area. Still, from this perch, that’s no reason to ignore it. So here it is. Chew on it for a while and spit it out if the taste doesn’t suit you.

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