The head of the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section is asking residents in the area of Conrad Road to check their security cameras for a possible mountain lion sighting.
It occurred at about 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, when a husband and wife “observed a mountain lion jump a four foot fence into their backyard and their mini Australian shepherd chased the cat to a back fence which it jumped over and disappeared into the wetlands behind the residence,” according to Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm.
“This was the second sighting in two weeks,” she said.
And at least the third this year, with an earlier sighting also coming near the Merritt Parkway corridor.
Last July, a man told Halm that he’d seen a mountain lion pass in front of him while jogging on Hoyt Farms Road. The following month, two more reports of sightings came in from White Oak Shade Lane and Gerdes Road.
Also known as ‘cougars’ or ‘pumas,’ mountain lions are reclusive creatures that feed mainly on deer, raccoons, rodents and various small mammals, experts say. Eleven years ago, a mountain lion made regional headlines after it was photographed in Greenwich and later struck and killed by a motor vehicle on the parkway in Milford—a young male that DEEP officials determined through DNA evidence had traveled east all the way from South Dakota. That’s a distance of more than 1,500 miles—one of the longest journeys ever recorded of a land mammal in North America, and more than twice the distance ever recorded for a dispersing mountain lion.
According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, a nonprofit conservation and education organization, the animals seek to avoid humans, though unprotected pets can make for easy prey.
In this case, the cat “was described as larger than a Golden Retriever, dirty gray in color with a long thick tail,” Halm said.
She urged residents to be aware of their surroundings, “expect the unexpected and have hazing tools available.” Halm also said that residents who see mountain lions should report them not only to Animal Control locally but also to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Here’s a recent podcast with Halm about wildlife in New Canaan.