The phone message arrived at my Greenfield home Friday afternoon. Colleague Mark Durant left it. There had been a cougar sighting in West County, and the man who reported it, Will Blattner from Washington, D.C., had photos. Ah, for the wonders of BlackBerry technology.

Blattner had somehow gotten my name, left his cell-phone number and e-mail address, and wanted my e-mail address so he could send the images. Because it was a sighting with great potential for someone who’s written about the subject for decades, I quickly accommodated him and soon received three images taken from the bridge on Zoar Road at the Charlemont/Rowe border, within view of the Steele Brook Road outflow. The photos show a wildcat, no mistaking that, but unfortunately the tail is obscured by the background, so I would call the shots ”inconclusive” but worth sharing.

The sighting occurred during one of Blattner’s many visits with his grandparents, Jim Carse and Donna Marder, longtime West County residents with homes in Rowe and Charlemont. Can’t blame a man for wanting to share that little slice of West County paradise with kinfolk, huh?

Anyway, Blattner and his grandparents were heading into Charlemont for supplies Friday, when they noticed another car pulled over, obviously observing something. Then Blattner’s grandmother pointed and said, ”Look!” and they all saw what they believed to be a young cougar.

”It was amazing, it wouldn’t move,” Blattner recalled. ”That’s when I snapped off the first picture. When my grandma and I got out of the car, it turned and started to lazily walk off into the forest. It looked like a large cat with a thicker muzzle, and one color (light brown) for the most part. We believe it may have been an immature cougar because of its size.”

Blattner, who works in a D.C. television studio, knows photography and said he wishes he had had a better camera. He knows doubters will question his shots, and was quick to point out that he and his grandfather had been ardent non-believers in Franklin County cougar sightings until this one crossed their path.

”My grandfather has lived in Rowe for decades and he never believed anyone who told him they had seen a cougar,” Blattner wrote, ”but this really seemed like a cougar to all of us.”

I ran the most revealing of three photos with my column, the one about which Blattner wrote, ”You can clearly see that he has a long tail, which proves he cannot be a bobcat.”

I zoomed in on all three photos, which grew blurrier with each enlargement, and I cannot say my eyes saw any proof of a long tail.

I printed the photo in the paper and titled the column “Inconclusive.”

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