Car Strikes Mountain Lion On Highway
Connecticut State Police reported that a full-grown mountain lion was struck and killed on busy highway about 70 miles northeast of New York City. Authorities suspect that the 140-pound cat was the same animal that earlier in the week had been spotted in Greenwich, a city close to the New York State line, and a short commute from Manhattan.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service earlier this year declared the cougar to be extinct in the Eastern United States. Federal wildlife authorities say that, while over the years a number of mountain lions have been spotted in the East, all either were pets that had been released or, in a handful of cases, had strayed from natural populations West of the Mississippi River. For instance, a mountain lion killed in downtown Chicago several years ago was proven to have wandered East from the Dakotas.
Because Connecticut is very far from any natural mountain lion populations, it is likely the animal killed on Saturday escaped from, or was released by, a “pet” owner or other handler.
State wildlife officials are working to find out where the Connecticut cougar came from, and to verify that it is the same animal seen at several sites in Greenwich, including on the grounds of a private school.
The mountain lion died after being struck by an SUV in the City of Milford, near Exit 55 of the Merritt Parkway. The driver of the vehicle was unhurt. In order to reach Milford from Greenwich, the animal would have had to cross the Housatonic River between Milford and the cities of Stratford and Shelton.