Like Chipmunks

Seems I can’t get away from cougars, mountain lions, catamounts, pumas or whatever you want to call them.

The reports keep coming at me like the Connecticut River Coordinator’s office wishes Atlantic salmon were migrating up the valley. Thse days, there seems to be a flurry of big-cat sightings along the Montague/Leverett, MA., line, Sawmill River country between Dry Hill Road and Cranberry Pond. I’m not making it up. Three reports in less than a week. What can I say?

Believable reports? Who knows? I can only report what I hear if I judge it credible. Myself, no, I have never seen a cougar. Sometimes I wonder what I have started, because since the first mention of the subject more than two years ago, I have been besieged, swallowed by the whale of visual evidence, which is, of course, unacceptable to the authorities.

“Seems to be quite a few around,” laughed Montague Chief of Police and old softball buddy Ray Zukowski on the phone, “kinda like chipmunks, I guess.”

You’d think so judging from the number of reports

Anyway, the Montague sightings started with an outdoorsman from Chestnut Hill. He called to inform me that two lady friends had seen a cougar cross their path while walking up the wooded Dry Hill Road a day or two earlier. Several attempts to reach one of the witnesses by phone have been unsuccessful, although she did leave a message on my phone confirming the sighting. Then, while still in the process of playing phone tag, another man from Chestnut Hill sent an e-mail to describe a sighting by his fiancé “on Leverett Road along the Sawmill River,” just before dark. So impressed was this witness that she immediately contacted the man who alerted me, then they returned to the scene the next morning looking for tracks through fresh snow.

“The fact that she was willing to wade into a marsh-like area to look for tracks in 20-degree weather,” was all my source needed to know about the veracity of her report. New to the area by way of Holyoke and totally unfamiliar with mycolumn, he posted the sighting on MassLive’s outdoor forum and immediately got a hit from someone who’d recently seen a cougar near Cranberry Pond. Throw in the report that came my way from nearby Dry Hill Road, along with the fact that none of the reporters were aware of others’ sightings, and it’s worth mentioning, regardless of what my critics say.

So, there it is: more reports by people who haven’t followed my weekly column and have no apparent reason to lie. All I can say is take it for what it’s worth. No more, no less. In the meantime, I’ll play the fool and wait for vindication.

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