Mountain lions are turning up in Greenwich, Conn.
After more than 100 years with nothing but news of high-bred dogs and people with names like Winthrop, Bush and Cohen, Greenwich has now had several reports of mountain lions roaming its tony quarters.
In late spring there were three separate sightings in Greenwich, and then a wild mountain lion was killed by an SUV on a highway 37 miles north in the New Haven suburb of Milford.
The Hartford Courant reported that authorities were stunned when DNA testing showed that the animal had probably traveled 1,500 miles from South Dakota to Connecticut, an unprecedented distance for that type of animal.
Since then, the local police have fielded numerous reports of mountain lion sightings in Greenwich. Last week, two residents of a gated community adjacent to a wildlife preserve reported seeing one.
This time, officials warned the locals to keep an eye on their children and dogs--and to be extra-cautious walking at dawn and dusk when the wild animals might be particularly active.
As for the cat killed on the highway, no one quite understands how he ended up so far from the Black Hills of South Dakota.
A necropsy showed that the lean, 140-pound male was 2 to 4 years old, had an empty stomach and most likely had never spent time in captivity, according to the state environmental protection agency. His travels were well documented through sightings in Minnesota and Wisconsin; biologists speculate that he later wandered through southern Ontario and New York before reaching Connecticut.
Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection maintains that despite a dozen or so sightings a year, there is no evidence of a native mountain lion population in Connecticut. Officials are concerned that the heightened focus on the dead animal may be stirring local imaginations--to mistake garden-variety bobcats, coyotes and dogs for mountain lions.
Nicknamed the St. Croix when he was seen wandering Wisconsin, the cat was the first confirmed mountain lion in the state of Connecticut since the 1880s.
--Geraldine Baum in New York
PHOTO: This mountain lion, from South Dakota as it turns out, was killed on a Connecticut highway in June. Credit: Reuters