The Cougar on the Porch

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Emery, David. "The Cougar on the Porch." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/the-cougar-on-the-porch-3299034. Emery, David. (2016, August 23). The Cougar on the Porch. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-cougar-on-the-porch-3299034 Emery, David. "The Cougar on the Porch." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-cougar-on-the-porch-3299034 (accessed September 21, 2017).
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Image #1

Netlore Archive: Snapshots taken through the screen door of someone's house reveal a cougar (mountain lion) prowling on the porch. Attributed to Dave Rodgers

Description: Viral images
Circulating since: March 2004
Status: Authentic photos / Mislabeled

Text example #1:
Email contributed by William C., March 6, 2005:

Fw: Real cougar in Hornell NY

Kriner Kirby was at the hunting camp in Hornell NY the weekend of Jan 24, the weekend we had the big snowstorm. She has cats and noticed something had been cleaning out all the food on the deck and in the storage shed.

Very Big Cat

That sunday a rep from the DEC confirmed it was a Cougar. He said there is at least 10 cougars living between Hornell, Corning NY to Wellsboro PA. Each animal can roam a 100sq mile area and usually stay clear of human activity, but in the winter easy food will attract them. He noted this is VERY rare to have one at your door and stay there for 3 photos. This animal may be a problem one, he said. He also estimated the animal is over 100lbs.

Also the local radio and tv news didn't seem to care much about this story or the photos. I guess they don't want to cause a scare in that area. Watch your back if you have a camp or cottage in that area.

02
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Image #2

Attributed to Dave Rodgers

Text example #2:
Email contributed by Traci, Feb. 12, 2007:

Fwd: Mountain Lion on Porch

From a guy out at Martin, SD. Pictures taken from his kitchen onto his patio deck. It was watching his little kids on the kitchen floor!


Text example #3:
Email contributed by Pam J., April 8, 2007:

Fw: Cougar

Cougars in michigan

Subject : FW: Cougars - Make sure to read below.

Here kitty kitty kitty! This is in Martin, Michigan, north of Kalamazoo. I'm sure the DNR would look at this photo and say that it's just a house cat. Awesome.

Guess what! There are more and more Mountain Lion sightings in all of Michigan. Lansing, Kalamazoo, Comstock Park, Baldwin and many, many more locations in Michigan. This is what we will be looking forward to in the near future. See below:

From a guy out at Martin,. Pictures taken from his kitchen onto his patio deck. It was watching his little kids on the kitchen floor!

03
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Image #3

Attributed to Dave Rodgers

Text example #4:
Email contributed by Lorelei, Feb. 6, 2008:

Fw: DON'T FEED THIS KITTY!!

DON'T FEED THE KITTIES !!

These pictures are from a guy out in Mason, TX.

The pictures were taken from his kitchen onto his deck this year when it snowed in January. The cat was watching his little kids playing on the kitchen floor. It is not a pet.

Thank goodness the kids weren't outside playing!!!!

04
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Image #4

Attributed to Dave Rodgers

Text example #5:
Email contributed by Larry W., Feb. 16, 2008:

Fw: Here Kitty, Kitty...

Thank GOD for the plate glass in the door! And, wouldn't this mess up your whole night if you were to take out the trash at the wrong time?

These are from a guy out at Watonga, Oklahoma . The pictures were taken from his kitchen onto his patio deck. The critter was watching his little kids playing on the kitchen floor!

Watonga is about 25 miles north of I 44 between OK City and Weatherford.

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Analysis

AS IS evidenced by the many versions of the text accompanying these viral images, each one of them specifying a different location where the big cat depicted in the photos was supposedly sighted, some folks aren't content to merely pass the photos along — they want to scare the pants off their neighbors in the process.

The pictures themselves are authentic. EXIF data embedded in all four images reveals they were shot with a Nikon digital camera on March 10, 2004 (there has been some confusion about the dating of the images, with most sources erroneously claiming they were taken in 2001 or 2002, and at least one other claiming they were taken in 2005). According to a 2007 article in Wild Cat News by the late Dave Hamilton, wildlife biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, the photos were snapped by Dr. Dave Rodgers of Lander, Wyoming, an area where cougar sightings are not infrequent.

"Other than the small remnant population in southern Florida, cougars have been absent east of the Rockies for nearly a century," Hamilton noted. The limited scientific evidence available suggests there could be a gradual resurgence of cougar populations occurring in some midwestern and eastern states, though biologists insist that will take several more years to confirm.

Meanwhile, ordinary folks from Iowa to Maine keep swearing they've spotted full-grown mountain lions where they're not supposed to exist, egged on by "a hungry news media" that "too often reports unsubstantiated claims as factual," Hamilton wrote. Most such reports involve misidentification of an animal — mistaking bobcats for cougars, for example — or are out-and-out hoaxes perpetrated via the Internet. Time will tell how many of them are true.

Related: On April 14, 2008 a 150-pound cougar was shot and killed by police in the North Side Chicago neighborhood of Roscoe Village.

Sources and further reading:

Cougar Hysteria
By Dave Hamilton, Wild Cat News, 2007

Photos of Cougars Create False Scare
Hartford Courant (Connecticut), 5 March 2008

Just Because It's on TV News Doesn't Make It True
NCBI News (Omak, Washington), 15 February 2008

Incorrectly Identified as Wisconsin Cougars
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, 15 February 2008

Illinois DNR Debunks Cougar Claim
Prairie State Outdoors, 7 February 2008

Reports of Cougars in Illinois Called Fake
Rockford Register Star, 6 February 2008

Phony Pictures Often Look Anything But
Roanoke Times (Virginia), 3 February 2008

Mountain Lion Photos Spook Many in Maine
Portsmouth Herald, 6 April 2005

Last updated: 11/20/11