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Wildlife Mythbusters

Jan 5

Written by:
1/5/2012 9:08 AM  RssIcon

Joe Schmoe knows a guy who knows guy whose brother was a game warden who swears when he was on staff at the Wildlife Commission, biologists dropped dozens of rattlesnakes from helicopters. Many folks tell this story.

Sometimes, the story is “legitimized” by adding details:  Wildlife dropped the snakes (with parachutes?) to control the deer population, and the rattler-stocking project was conducted under the cover of night from black, stealth helicopters to stay off the public’s radar screen.

Still others weave a tale of biologists wanting to replenish a dwindling population of rattlesnakes in Hanging Rock State Park.

Sounds exciting. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how much you like snakes — it’s not true. This is one of a few rumors that circulate around North Carolina, despite the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s  persistent efforts to quash them.

Some also believe the Commission released coyotes to control the deer population. Also a myth. Coyotes arrived in North Carolina as a result of natural range expansion from neighboring states. They established a sustainable population by the mid-1980s, and, by 2004, coyotes lived in every county in North Carolina.

Finally, one of the most tenacious rumors regards cougars (also called panthers and mountain lions). The Wildlife Commission receives dozens of calls reporting sightings every year. Nearly all are unconfirmed, and many turn out to be bobcats, deer, foxes or coyotes — all of which are common in North Carolina.

All confirmed sightings since 1950 turn out to be escaped captive animals, kept as pets. The wild eastern cougar has been extinct in North Carolina for many years.

Occasionally, the myth pops up that the Commission, or some other government agency, released cougars to control the feral pig population. This is not true.

18 comment(s) so far...

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

I have observed and believe coyote's migration East was greatly enhanced by unscrupulous hunters smuggling them East because they present a challenging quarry for hounds. Some arrests have been made for this.

By John Kennedy on   1/9/2012 8:51 AM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

Does the NCWRC have any plans to restore cougars to NC?

By Chris C on   1/11/2012 8:35 AM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

Chris C,
The eastern cougar is considered extinct east of the Mississippi River, and there are no plans, either in North Carolina or federally, to reintroduce it.

By NCWRC blogger on   1/18/2012 9:25 AM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

I am sick of this site and others saying absolutely that some animals are distinct in certain areas. Just a few months ago Rick Savage was on national tv in NC digging up artifacts when his high dollar professional cameras captured a Cougar ,maybe 25 yards from them. Even when on professional camera, it does not exist. The Wildlife administrations have NO credibility.

Also, I viewed a Melanistic phase Jaguar on Route 12 through Hatteras Island , NC in April of this year. Several others have been sighted recently.

Today, I got a call from a woman that saw a 50 lb young Cougar right here on Hatteras Island in here front yard for over 20 minutes.

Ignorance cannot explain those defying their existence, it must have to do something with having to meet federal requirements if you find big cats in your area.

By Randy Cullinan on   6/13/2012 9:17 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

Driving up through Vanceboro at 2 in the morning... I know I saw a large Panther or cougar... The animal had a 15 to 20 foot stride... The tail was long and didnt seem to move as it took across highway 43..lightning fast....tannish... I just don't know for sure...i was sober as a anyone?

By jimbo. on   10/9/2012 4:56 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

So if someone was to shoot said extinct cougar what would be the penality? Would there be a penality?

By Scott on   1/4/2013 3:23 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

The cougar is a protected species in North Carolina, so, yes, there would be a penalty.

By NCWRC blogger on   1/4/2013 3:26 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

WRC may not have dropped coyotes here, but their own reports show coyotes showing up in NC first in Wake and Johnston Cos., and Beaufort and Hyde Cos., not migration into border cos. They didn't fly there. They were illegally imported.

By Scott Mooneyham on   1/4/2013 9:32 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

So why would there be a penalty or even protection on the books if Eastern Cougars are indeed "extinct" east of the Mississippi.

Big cats are mysterious and shy...dont want to be seen so they are not. Wasnt too long ago they said a Jaguar couldn't possibly be in Texas, they as the NCWRC thought it was an escaped captive cat. It wasnt it was a wild make cat expanding his range.

By Hillbilly Wizard on   1/5/2013 6:25 AM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

I have seen the cougar in Rockingham County and have seen wolves as well. I think it's great that our wildlife is returning to NC. But I think they are being helped here not by migration but by man.

By Brian on   2/11/2013 8:45 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

Yep, heard that dropping rattlesnakes from helicopters up in Ashe last year (2012)

By JD Lynn on   2/22/2013 11:27 AM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

you can call all these sightings as false if you want, but last year I took my dog outside for potty and he ran off porch fast as he could to back of our fench in back yard. I ran behind him, and there on other side was a Panther. It wasnot a bobcat. This cat had long hair and a very long tail. Just two weeks ago, I saw another one (maybe same one) cross highway in front of me. (same description) p.s. (I donot drink and drive)

By mike patterson on   4/30/2013 7:42 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

I know without a doubt mountain lions are alive and well in NC! I have seen them and heard them in the Laurel Springs area. So, if cougars are really "extinct" in NC; then somebody needs to tell them that, because apparently the cougars didn't get the memo.

By Dawn on   4/30/2013 9:11 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

I have a picture on my cell of a cougar track behind our new house in is about 4 inches by 3 can't tell me that's a bobcat! We just moved from Vermont 3 months ago and I have seen bobcats and their tracks. This one is 10 times bigger. Is it possible its a cougar or maybe a lynx?

By Wendi on   6/14/2013 10:09 AM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

I have a picture on my cell of a cougar track behind our new house in is about 4 inches by 3 can't tell me that's a bobcat! We just moved from Vermont 3 months ago and I have seen bobcats and their tracks. This one is 10 times bigger. Is it possible its a cougar or maybe a lynx?

By Wendi on   6/14/2013 6:46 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

I'm not sure whether it is a bob cat or a cougar where I live in Seven Springs. I have seen this animal twice when its between 7-830 pm. Its fast and clears my driveway from one side to the other. Its the size of a large dog. I couldn't find any tracks to confirm what it could be. I'm a hunter and it kind of freaks me out beings I have outdoor pets. I think I am going to try to get pictures next time I see it.

By Rebecca on   6/19/2013 8:20 PM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

I think that I may have a couple of pics of a mountain lion from trail cam all the way on the east coast in Pamlico county. I know this would be highly unlikely. It sort of alarmed me at first, and the pics are not the best but I really do not think that it is a picture of a bobcat at all. Of course I am neither a biologist nor an expert in cat species at all. It has a long fat tail and what appears to be uniform markings. Who can I submit the photos to for review?

By Me on   6/21/2013 11:43 AM

Re: Wildlife Mythbusters

Photos can be sent to

By NCWRC blogger on   6/21/2013 11:47 AM

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