Residents, Officials Work on Plan to Capture 'Palisades Panther'

Proof has been elusive, but that hasn't stopped some distressed people from pooling their money in an effort to capture what they say are large, roving felines in Rockland County.

Concerned residents, joined by Orangetown police and Supervisor Thom Kleiner, packed Palisades Presbyterian Church last night to hatch a plan for catching the animals, often described as panthers or mountain lions. At least eight sightings of the creatures were reported in the past five months.

What they came up with was a preliminary budget of $6,000 to buy eight cameras and two traps and hire a professional tracker.

"A lot of people have questions, but what we really need now is some action," said Milbry Polk, a Palisades resident who helped organize the meeting.

The carcasses of two slaughtered deer that turned up in the hamlet in the past few weeks renewed concerns that predatory felines could be prowling the region.

Four to six sightings around Palisades and Tallman State Park were reported in March and April. Additional sightings in Pearl River and at a golf course in Rockland Lake State Park trickled in afterward.

So far, no photographic evidence has been submitted to police.

"We don't have any sightings that are 100 percent provable right now," Orangetown Sgt. James Sullivan said.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has not intervened because it needs more to go on than just eyewitness accounts, said Ed McGowan, a science director for the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

At this point, he said, no one can tell whether the animals are as large as leopards or as small as fishers.

"If we're keeping an open mind that there could be panthers, we should keep an open mind that it could be something else," he said yesterday.

Shane Hobel, a tracker with New Jersey-based Tracker SFI, said at least one large cat is present and "feeding well."

PREVIOUS POSTS ON THE 'PALISADES PANTHER'

Big Cat Sightings Investigated In Palisades, New York
'Large Black Cat' Reports Continue in New York
Big Cat Sightings Spread Throughout Rockland County, NY
Suburban Legends: The Palisades Panthers

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