I know this because when I’ve said it before it has offended some of you.
There aren’t cougars in Virginia.
Well, maybe there’s been a released wildcat or two running around out there. But wild mountain lions? Sorry. I’m not buying it.
Now, I know there have been a boatload of “cougar sightings” in the state. Some of you may have even thought you’ve seen cougars. (Several of my friends are in that category. They remain my friends, even if my skepticism rankles them.) But I maintain that if even a fraction of those sightings were legitimate there would be hard proof.
(Here’s where the conspiracy theorists launch into their diatribes on how the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and co-conspirators are squashing such evidence. Yep. And Elvis is still alive, too.)
All this said, I think it is only a matter of time before there are actual wild cougars in Virginia. These are amazingly mobile animals that can range far and wide. They have been confirmed throughout the Midwest and are moving this way.
When they get there they will leave behind solid evidence. Sightings, yes. But also tracks. Scat. Photos. Blood.
I hope I’m still doing this when it happens because it’s going to be a fun story to cover. In fact, my buddy at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, outdoors reporter Chris Niskanen, is getting to cover it right now. To get an idea how much actual real evidence a cougar leaves behind, check out his latest story.