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Mountain Lion Watch?

CODY, Wyo. — Sorry, folks, but those compelling photos of a mountain lion sitting on a porch in the Northwest Corner are a hoax. The mountain lion was not in fact seen on Sharon Mountain; it was photographed at a house in Cody, Wyo.

The pictures were first posted online at cody-wyoming-network.com/2010/01/mountain-lion-roaming-close-to-casper-mountain-homes on Jan. 29. Somehow they got picked up in the Northwest Corner, and they were posted on Facebook and circulated in group e-mails that claimed the cat had made a local appearance.

The e-mails generated an enormous amount of excitement. There has been an ongoing debate about whether the big cats can be found in the Litchfield hills. The state Department of Environmental Protection is emphatic that there are no mountain lions here. Many area residents (including several on Sharon Mountain) say they have had close encounters with the cats. But so far, no one has managed to capture one on film or to find evidence such as scat or a carcass.    

“Hoaxes like these are common and really hinder the ability to collect real evidence that mountain lions have been seen in Northwest Connecticut,†said Scott Heth, director of Sharon Aubudon. “I am still being forwarded these pictures, receiving calls and being approached by people who do not realize this was a hoax and this will probably continue for some time to come.â€

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