HALFMOON — Town residents are reporting some pretty big cats in the area.
Earlier this week, residents told both Halfmoon’s town hall and animal control offices they’d seen mountain lions, according to Town Supervisor Kevin Tollisen.
The calls prompted town officials to alert residents on Facebook about the reported location of the wild animal.
“We have received information from residents that there have been sightings of a mountain lion in the vicinity of Coons Crossing; the Northern part of Halfmoon,” the post reads. “We would just like to alert everyone to please be aware for the safety of your families and pets.”
Tollisen saw later Facebook posts questioning if the cat walking around Halfmoon was a bobcat or mountain lion. He said he’s “perfectly aware” that the Department of Environmental Conservation says that Eastern cougars, also known as mountain lions, have been extirpated in New York state since the late 1800s, but the “species doesn’t matter” when his main goal is to keep residents safe.
“In any event, it’s a rather large animal,” Tollison said.
Tollison said a friend of his took a photo of a bobcat in Halfmoon on Thursday night and tagged him in a Facebook post. While he doesn’t know if this was the animal other people were reporting, he hopes the animal, whatever it is, will just pass through.
Still, the DEC received a report Monday that a mountain lion was spotted in Halfmoon.
“DEC wildlife biologists received reports of a mountain lion sighting on Route 67 in Halfmoon on June 3,” Jomo Miller of the DEC press office wrote. “DEC continues to monitor reports and encourages the public to report observations of rare species in New York State by following the guidance available [here].”
The cats may be rare, but they aren’t unheard of in the region.
In December 2010, a 140-pound mountain lion walked through Lake George. That was the first confirmed sighting of a wild mountain lion in the state in a century, although a once-captive mountain lion cub was killed in Saratoga County in 1993.
But some residents are almost certain they’ve seen mountain lions in the area since.
Clemons resident Sandy Caron spotted what she thought was a mountain lion behind her house while looking at camera footage in August 2016. She provided the Gazette with photos of the creature.
She said the local animal control officer and a ranger told her the cat wasn’t a mountain lion after she showed them camera footage, but she still doesn’t think it was a bobcat.
“After hearing this one and seeing this cam [footage], I believe they are 100% true,” Caron said. “To me, that’s not a bobcat.”