Jul 27, 2016 5:57 PM

Fact or folklore: Do mountain lions roam NH?

NH1.com

BARNSTEAD - It's been a long debated topic, is it possible that mountain lions roam the woods of New Hampshire?

It depends who you ask.

Officials from New Hampshire Fish and Game said on average they receive 400-500 reports of mountain lion sightings every year. But none have been confirmed.

One recent report came from Naomi Avery in Barnstead.

"I let my cat out and just as I was closing the door I heard a loud growl and I knew it couldn't be my little cat," Avery said.

She described the animal as the size of a large dog, tan, with a long tail.

Joshua Tetro said he saw what he believes was a mountain lion near his home in Pittsfield last week.

"I looked at the details and descriptions from all over and I'm pretty sure it's a mountain lion. About 98% sure," Tetro said.

NH1 News tracked down two mountain lions - at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness. The center receives calls about possible sightings too.

"People are seeing something in the woods, we're not sure what they're seeing," said Executive Director Iain MacLeod.

Despite blogs and several comments online, experts and officials maintain that the mountain lion is extinct in this area. They do however, still live in the wild in states west of the Mississippi River.

The last reported mountain lion in New England was when one of the cats was hit and killed in Connecticut in 2011. Experts determined that cat had traveled from South Dakota.

Patrick Tate, a Fish and Game wildlife biologist said despite hundreds of reports, no one has produced credible evidence.

"To date we have no physical information or picture or any photograph proving one is or was in our state," Tate said.

Avery and Tetro said they plan on setting up game cameras and should they capture evidence of a mountain lion, they plan to report it to Fish and Game and to NH1 News.

Colleen Shaughnessy is a multimedia journalist for NH1 News. You can email her at cshaughnessy@nh1.com and follow her on Twitter, @ColleenNH1.

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