Exotic cat killed in Pennsylvania

A serval was shot killing chickens-

Notebook: Exotic cat killed in Pennsylvania. By John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Sighting of cougars and black panthers in the East may often be real cats, but not of North American origin.

One the posts on this blog that has had the most comments over time is the one about a cougar sighting in Virginia. People find it and have been posting comments for well over a year now.





  1. Salle Avatar


    i noticed a couple stories of interest in the side bar on the story page:



    Not get off topic but… pertinent all the same.

    The story on this thread, however, also indicates how many exotic animals are harbored as pets in this country. I truly wonder how much research the owners actually conduct prior to acquiring such animals and with regard to their care and what is actually known about them when in captivity. And I wonder how long it takes for some to lose interest in them and either turn them lose out of ignorance and/or lack of ability to continue their upkeep and feeding.

    I used to hear horror stories of this type about exotic cats, in particular, when I was living in New England decades ago.

  2. Mike Avatar

    Pretty amazing animal. It’s owners probably did not know what they were getting into, and lazily released or accidentally let the animal out, causing it’s death.

    I wonder how long this rare cat lived in those woods. This animal could have been used at a zoo or as an educational tool if the chicken coop guy would have just chased it away and then called in some officials to capture the animal.

    This thing could have easily been scared off byb some pots and pans.

    Most of us really haven’t evolved yet it seems.

  3. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Wow, servals have colonized Pennsylvania!

    Oh, wait, it was simply an escaped pet. Just like all the so-called cougar sightings in the Southeast.

    Well, they did find an African lion skull in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia a while back…..maybe they are colonizing Virginia, too!

    I am surprised at how many people are able to get permits for these exotic pets like servals, African lions, etc. Very amusing that some people take these escaped individual (or released) cougars as evidence of re-population, though.

    No evidence exists whatsoever. But when has that prevented people from believing what they want to believe?

  4. Ed Avatar

    Here we go again SmokyMtMan. Say it ain’t so.

    Sound like you want us all to believe you and not have our own opinions. I don’t care too much for that. I don’t know if cougars/mountain lions exist in the east of not. I’m not that smart and rely on others and outside information for help. Learning.

    I talked to a local game official a couple of years ago and was told that mountain lions had already crossed the Mississippi River headed east. This was someone who had been involved in scents and track studies.

    Getting someone to admit in public is a whole different thing and probably will never happen. As I stated before the game agency might be held liable for livestock damages, the agency would have to admit that they exist naturally, and the fact that they may have known about these animals and had been withholding information. Add to that the fact that these animals are on the endangered species list in most eastern states. If someone killed one they would be fined or incarcerated.

    What is the reason they could not exist naturally on the east coast??? Just because someone hasn’t seen one doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Do creatures exist on Mars?

  5. frank Avatar

    I love a good Dept. of Natural Resources conspiracy theory. Some may be migrating east, pretty much only young males though. Hard to get a breeding pop. that way.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The Cougar Network, on my blogroll, is the definitive source on cougar migration eastward.

  7. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    I am not trying to ruffle feathers here. But let’s be realistic. Almost every acre of forest in the east has been industrially logged, and most areas many times over. The east has seen many tree extinctions in the past century, with many keystone species gone from the wild. Many more, such as the species of oak, beechnut, dogwood, Hemlock, are rapidly disappearing or having been killed back significantly as a result of disease or exotic insects.

    The east’s forests are a shadow of what they once were. The habitat of the Appalachians is actually very poor in regard to deer populations. Deer have a tough time in the eastern forests. Farm country is a different manner, but I hope people aren’t suggesting cougars are hiding behind Farmer Brown’s barn.

    Cougar, as any biologist will tell you, leave many signs in their territory. Particularly in the breeding season. If there was a breeding population of cougar, we would know it.

    It would be obvious to biologists. But that isn’t the case right now, is it? Will cougar establish populations in the east ever again?

    Perhaps. But they aren’t BREEDING there now. Or we would know. There just aren’t large blocks of wilderness anywhere in the east. Actually, there is NO wilderness of any real size in the east, period.

  8. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Ed said: “Sound like you want us all to believe you and not have our own opinions.”

    Your opinions are your own. They cost me nothing, so it should be fairly obvious to you that since I have zero financial interest in what you believe, you opinion holds little value to me.

    I am merely stating what I believe to be true.

    There are individuals in the U.S. that believe they are visited by space aliens on a regular basis.

    I hope you don’t think I am bothered by what they believe, either.

    Like I have stated, the majority of people tend to believe what they find most appealing to them. The truth seldom gets in the way.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Once again,

    Please look at the map on the Cougar Network!

  10. vickif Avatar

    Okay, given the map that Ralph posted, I would say (no biologist, just opinion) that there is the very real possibility that people could sight cougars in areas they are not confirmed. I don’t know if they breed there or not, but looking atthe map, it is obvious that hey are wide spread. The farther they go the less dense their population.

    That may not stay true for long. With urban sprawl what it is, I would wonder (not state) if the cougars will spread themselves even thinner trying to find new habitat? SInce the west is already established cougar territory (and I think the east USED to be) and is becoming increasingly sprawl infested, why would the cougar not look east, and north for new places to roam?

    I don’t know what these people have seen. But I do know that there are cougars a plenty in places where I hike, but I never see them. I am more likely to see one hanging out in the suburbs or in Boulder. I also know that where I have seen them, I didn’t notice much sign until I was pretty close to the cat. That could be coinsidence, or could be careful behavior of the cat. I am not certain.

    I am certain though, that many people are attacked and never see the cat until it is on top of them. I also know I have hiked and heard a cat above me on a ridge growl, but never saw it. Rangers up around Grand Lake in Colorado literally pulled me aside several years ago to tell me that ‘ cougars have been known to stock their prey, including people. They will sneak up on you and follow you for miles without you even knowing they are there. Make yourself look big, listen for rocks shuffling above you, watch the brush around you.’ -They were checking fishing licenses at the trailhead I take to fish part of the Colorado River, and warning people in the area because of the number of cougar sightings in the area.

    No other hikers that I asked had seen sign, or heard anything. But a child was attacked and killed in the area a few years prior, and a man at the gas station told me he had a cat in the tree next to his deck, just outside his bedroom window the week before. He said he was eye level with the cougar, and it wasn’t budging. He threw beer cans at it (full) , and it didn’t leave until he had left in his car.

    It is hit and miss to find a cougar, let alone see one by chance. But it happens. Maybe these folks see one here or there. Maybe they are moving in? Or maybe not? Either way, we can neither prove nor disprove it. We can only hope that if the cougar is moving east, it has a chance to sustain itself there.

  11. Ed Avatar

    Sounds to me like a few feathers are ruffled a bit.

    I just stated what one of the game officials (game biologist) told me. I’m sure he had the facts to back up what he said.

    Deer populations. Seem to be growing each year where I am. More deer permit numbers each year. If more deer are thriving near farms maybe that’s why more cougar sightings are being reported.

    Why would only young males be migrating east? Sounds like your know more, Frank.

    Guess we will only know when actual proof shows up. If/when that happens, there will still be the unbelievers. Someone might have to admit that they were wrong. Not the thing to do in today’s society, right?

    In the interim, my camera’s are still out there.

  12. frank Avatar

    Young males move east because they are forced to by older males. They are looking to establish their own territory. I live in IL, and all three that have been found here have been young males. The females don’t seem to be the wanderers that the males are, so that is why I really don’t believe there is a breeding pop. east of the Mississippi.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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