The Cougar Watch project started as effort to gather information about sightings of cougars (Puma concolor) in the Adirondack Park. Many people have claimed to see cougars over the years, but obtaining physical evidence is difficult given that most sightings are of road crossings. Since Cougar Watch started we have collected sightings and can report 17 credible sightings and two sets of tracks.
Other reports were made that we believed were not credible. We also have many reports of sightings from 2012 and before.
One interesting thing is that we were able to collect multiple reports of cougar sightings in a couple specific areas. For instance, on June 4th there was a sighting reported east of Tupper Lake on Route 3. A few weeks later on July 12th there was a sighting just east of Saranac Lake. On July 24th there was a sighting in Lake Clear and on August 3rd a sighting reported on the Silver Lake Mountain trail. There were also three sightings within six months around Lake Placid. During this same time there was another report of a cougar on Jay Mountain in Lewis.
The map below shows the locations that cougar sightings have been reported. Below are full descriptions of the various sightings.
Locations of Cougar Sightings in the Adirondack Park April 2013 – August 2014
Here are dates, locations and descriptions of the various sightings made in reports to Cougar Watch.
August 3, 2014, Silver Mountain trail: “My wife and I both saw the cougar. It crossed the path west to east just past the entrance from the parking area but before the sign-in box. At first glance I thought it was a deer. I didn’t have a good look. However as we entered the path it crossed back form east to west. I had a very good look. It was the color of a yellow lab. I would guess it was about 100 lbs. Long tail, moved quickly and was clearly a very large cat. There is no doubt that it was a cougar not a dog, bear, deer or anything else. I spend a lot of time in the woods. I’ve seen bobcats, bears, deer, moose, fox, coyotes and other smaller mammals. This was large cat, long tail, yellowish color.”
August 3, 2014, Quaker Road, Queensbury: “My boyfriend and I were driving home from the drive in movies just after 1:00am, on Quaker Road in Queensbury, crossing the road near the pond area. I had to slow down to avoid hitting the Cougar. We both saw the cat in full light from my headlights no more than 20 feet in front of my car. The cat was about the size of a medium dog, and the tail was very long and definitely signature of a cougar.”
July 24, 2014, Jay Mountain: “I climbed Jay Mountain on July 24 and was sitting on the peak when I looked back along the ridge and saw a couple just entering the large flat open area just to the west . I saw movement at the closer end and my first thought was it was their dog and I was surprised that it was that far away from them. Then I saw that it wasn’t moving like a dog, then I saw the tail, and then it was gone. It was definitely a big cat. It happened so quickly I couldn’t get a picture.
I think it was moving away from the people behind it and they came to the summit with no trouble. I didn’t see any sign on the way down later. I looked briefly on the ridge for paw prints but the ground was either rock or hard so no trace. I had no inclination to try to follow him in that terrain.
I was probably 75-100 yards away but had a clear sight. My best estimate was that it was the size of a large German shepherd. It was big, and solid color.”
July 24, 2014, Lake Clear: “Went berry picking at night saw him he stalked us watched him for bout 20 minutes snaking back and forth and backing away slowly never loosing eye contact with us.”
July 12,2014, Saranac Lake: “Cougar ran across road (Rte. 3) from water’s edge just outside of Saranac Lake before Trudeau Sand & Gravel. It was light brown/light tan in color with a long tail (It was NOT a bobcat!!).”
June 4, 2014, east of Tupper Lake: “On Route 3 between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. Cougar crossed the road in a crouched manner, not running but moving quickly. Saw from behind again as we passed the point it crossed and saw in clearing from behind. Definitely a big cat, long tail, no spotting.”
January 13, 2014, Winthrop, NY: “It was in the back yard walking from west to east. Continued along cedar rail fence, crossed in front off our burning pit, then continued over into a adjacent field to the east of the house. The sighting was during day light hours in the evening at approx 4:20 pm.
We attempted to follow the path, but reluctantly could not identify tracks due to hard packed snow and ice. My daughter tried to photograph it with her phone but the animal was too far up the hill to identify it in the picture. The animal was very dark in color, appeared to be taller than our hounds larger in body size and very slender in appearance. There may have been two other possible sightings on our property earlier in the fall of 2013 on two different occasions.”
December 2013, St. Regis Falls: “The St. Regis Falls cat trotted across an isolated stretch of road in the light of my head lights then went into the woods. The Lake Placid cat in early 2013 was eating bacon grease I had poured outside my house and it froze when I shined a flashlight on it. I shined the light from it’s tail to it’s head and then it even turned and looked right at me, then took off.” (Note: The report was made by a veterinarian.)
December 1, 2013, Cold Brook: Tracks in the snow.
November 25, 2013, North Lake, Town of Ohio: Tracks in the snow.
November 24, 2013, Minerva: “My wife and I were returning from NC on November 24, 2013 and were driving between Pottersville, NY and Olmstedville, NY at aproximately at 8:15PM a cougar ran across the road about 40 ft. in front of our van. It was around 3 1/2 ft long with a tail of the same length, tawny in color. Needless to say, we were quite surprised as well as thrilled.”
October 3, 2013, Wells: “I was walking around Lake Algonquin Lake in Wells NY on Algonquin Dr. around 9:30am and a mountain lion was crouching down smelling the grass in front of a house on a hill approx 50 feet (telephone pole height) away from me. I came up parallel to him so we were looking in the same direction. It slowly got up and I verified with his long curly tail that he was a mountain lion. (First one I have seen in the wild.) It then turned and faced me sitting….I slowly backed up and got a tree to break up our line of sight and turned and ran, I paused looked back but it did not follow me down the road. I went and got my car and returned but did not see it. It was big, healthy at least physically looked wellfed with a nice coat, truly peaceful.
About a week later, walking towards the same spot but farther away, I saw something large (that fit the dimensions of a mountain lion) cross the road in the very same spot but cannot say that this incident it was a mountain lion. I was still too far away and it was dusk. I ran back, got my car but did not see any signs. I know for sure that I saw a mountain lion in the above paragraph. I continued to look for any sightings and did see any sightings except for an early frost that left some tracks on the other side of the road that resemble mountain lion tracks. There are deer in the area and there were also some deer tracks in the vicinity.”
August 2013, Helena, NY: Cougar walked along far side of pasture, 500 yards away.
July 30, 2013, Ray Brook: “At 6:30 pm driving between Saranac and Ray Brook on Route 86 I spotted a cougar crossing the road as I got closer to the DEC station. I saw another driver looking into the forest after it passed. I am familiar with the differences between lynx, bobcats, and cougars. It had big paws, a long tail and was the size of a Great Dane. It was very smooth in its movements.”
May 2013, North Elba: “My grandfather and I saw a Mountain Lion right across from the entrance to Meacham Lake campground on a Sunday morning in August of 1974 while driving from from Saranac Lake to Malone. We got a very good look at it, it loped, not ran, over a hundred yards along the edge of the woods. 39 years later, about 2 am driving past the Cascade Inn, what I thought was a small dear jumped up in the middle of the road. I realized that it was not moving like a deer. I hit the brakes and almost stopped. It zig zagged, then stopped and turned and looked at me over its shoulder. The head and long tail were plainly visible. I called DEC in the morning and reported it. They said there had been no other sightings in the area. I stopped back the next day and looked for tracks, but it had been raining.”
May 2013, Cadyville: “I was traveling to work, approximately 7am in Town of Plattsburgh/Cadyville, what I believe to be a mountain lion crossed Rte 374 in the vicinity of Akey Road. It was approximately 300 yards or so in front of me. Reason I believe it was a mountain lion was because of the long tail that was very noticeable as it ran across the road, moved very quickly and very smooth, graceful.”
April 2013, between Long Lake and Tupper Lake: “Crossed in front of my car at about a 1/4 mile, 8 miles south of Tupper on Route 30. By number 5 Gate. At 6:30 a.m.. The cougar crossed right to left as I was traveling to Long Lake.”
March 2013, Cedar River Road, Indian Lake: “While driving on Rte 28, I glanced up Cedar River Rd and saw a very large, long black cat run across the road from the cemetary, up a bank and into the woods beside John Rust Rd., which is off Cedar River Rd. At first, I didn’t believe it was a cougar because it was very dark brown or black. I spoke with a co-worker who lives on Cedar River Rd and she told me that some family members and one of her neighbors had also seen it and it was definitely a cougar.”
Protect the Adirondacks continues to collect sightings of cougars in and around the Adirondacks. Click here for more information on the Cougar Watch project. Click here to file a report.