Updated: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15
Patch contacted Dan Stark, wolf specialist with the DNR, about the print. Here's what he said:
This is clearly a canine track. Probably a large dog. The nails are very obvious and are relatively blunt compared to the razor sharp claws of a cougar. Cougars usually do not leave claw marks because they walk with claws retracted like a domestic cat. Also the track is very symmetrical (i.e. the inner and outer toes match up). On a cougar track the inner middle toe leads slightly and then they arch to the outside.
Celeste McTighe says she and her husband see plenty of wildlife in the woods behind their Boulder Ridge Road home.
“You name it, we get it,” she said.
But the Woodbury resident and her husband on Saturday morning thought they saw something a bit more unique than a wild turkey or rabbit—a cougar.
“My husband said, ‘That’s not a regular cat. Look at the size of its tail,’” McTighe said.
They called the Department of Natural Resources about the possible cougar sighting, and officials told the couple that the DNR has received similar reports.
McTighe took a photo of a paw print in the snow and compared it to online images of cougar tracks.
“I thought it looked really close,” she said.
The DNR official told McTighe’s husband that cougars aren’t generally dangerous, though she acknowledged it might not have been one.
“Maybe it was just a big dog,” she said.
There have been previous reports of cougar sightings in Woodbury. In January 2011 a Woodbury police officer said he believed he saw one near Woodbury Lakes. And a resident called police about seeing a cougar on Dec. 31, 2012.
There have been 14 verified cougar sightings in the state over the past four years, according to the DNR’s website.
“Maybe it is and maybe it’s not, but if we see it again we’re going to try to get a picture,” McTighe said.