Svendsen Sighting

It’s late morning in early November and Carl Svendsen is traveling Bernardston Road north on his way to a northern Greenfield tool show at Indoor Action, when something catches his eye at the Emerson family tree farm, near the outflow of Lover’s Lane. Upon closer inspection from a range of 100 yards, the long tail and massive body tells him he’s looking at a “dirty-blonde” cougar. Unbelievable.

Svendsen quickly turns his vehicle around and stops to get a better look as the cat as it “meanders” toward an open ridge-top behind pastured horses; clearly a large, long-tailed cat. No question about it. Then, overwhelmed by the sighting, he backs up quite a distance and into the landowner’s driveway. He has to share his sighting with someone; anyone. Why not the owner? So he exits the vehicle and raps on the door. A man answers and he askes him to come quickly, there’s a cougar walking across his pasture. But by the time he gets his shoes on and arrives at a site where they can view the clearing, the cat has vanished, likely on the other side of the western ridge, headed toward Interstate 91.

“Seeing is believing,” says Svendsen, of Erving. “There was no mistaking it. I’ve read about sightings, now I’ve had one, and to think it happened in Greenfield, Massachusetts. I’ve been all around the country and see my first cougar in Greenfield? Who would have thought it?

“I was so excited that the guy I spoke to must have thought I was having a heart attack. I was just thrilled to see one. A beautiful sight.”

The homeowner questions him. Is he certain he didn’t see his house cat?

No way. The thing was huge.

Svendsen goes home to get his wife, tells her to come with him, he’s seen a cougar. They jump in the car and take a walk to where he last saw the animal. Nothing. “I’m no tracker and the ground was hard,” he says, “but the landowner saw a track he wasn’t familiar with and said he’d check with a friend of his who’s a game warden. He also told me his neighbors from the other side of the power lines claim to have seen cougars.”

Several other sightings have come from the area west of I-91, between East Colrain and the Mohawk Trail, not far from the Emerson site.

What will the authorities say when a cougar is killed in the road? It could happen. And if it does, they’ll have a lot of explaining to do. Why do they say they’re extinct? Why don’t they admit there”s a chance, even slim, that they never faded into total extinction?

At this point Eastern Cougars are ghosts from the past, kind of like moose and wolves and lynxes, which have reappeared with the reforestation of New England. So, why not cougars?

That’s a question no one has been able to answer with certainty.

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