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New Jersey “mountain lion” identified as a house cat

PHILADELPHIA — Was it a mountain lion, or a house cat? That was the question after a winery in a Hammonton, New Jersey posted a brief video appearing to show a puma strolling through the vineyard.

In an October 9th post on a Hammonton winery’s Facebook page, a five-second video shows a light tan animal that they say was a cougar, recorded two weeks before, reports CBS Philadelphia.

A trail cam photo taken about that time also sparked questions. On Monday, DEP spokesman Larry Hajna says he got an answer.

“Larry Herrighty, our assistant director for operations in the division of fish and wildlife, reviewed the video and the trail-cam photo, and concluded the animal in both is, in fact, a house cat. We’d much rather that it be a house cat than a mountain lion, to be honest with you,” said Hajna.

Hajna says although cougars haven’t lived in New Jersey for more than a century, some other big critters are residents of the Garden State.

“You may run into a coyote, or even a bear. The general rule of thumb is just to leave wildlife alone,” he said.

Still, those reports prompted the township to notify local Fish and Wildlife officials.

In the meantime, they’ve sent out a release acknowledging the sightings, and stressing there have been no reports of contact between large cats and people, and say such animals generally avoid people.