GREENWICH, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- There has been a wild animal alert issued in the northern suburbs. A mountain lion, yes, a mountain lion, is on the loose, reports CBS 2's Lou Young.
It's out there and conservation experts said the picture obtained by CBS 2 is definitely it.
"I don't believe it," Greenwich resident Siobahn O'Conner said.
WCBS 880's Sean Adams In Connecticut
Connecticut environmental officials said Thursday it appears the big cat that has been spotted roaming the town of Greenwich is, in fact, a mountain lion.
A full-sized mountain line was photographed on the campus of the Brunswick School in Greenwich on Sunday, along with a matching paw print and a 9-inch lion dropping that seals the scientific deal.
It's not a bobcat, it's a mountain lion.
"Bobcats have these little tails, but the mountain lion has this really long tail about half the length of their body, and are 6 to 8 feet long," said Joe Cassone of the Greenwich Conservation Department. It's not common to see a big predator like that in Greenwich."
"From what we can determine, it was at least two to three times bigger than a dog and the dog is bigger than a bobcat," said DEP spokesman Dwayne Gardner. "We're also working with [the] New York Department of Environmental Conservation to try to obtain a trap for it."
We're not looking for your Aunt Mildred's kitty here, either. This is a big cat, a 160-pound predator that hunts and eats things that are bigger than a breadbox. Luckily, it's wary of people as people, justifiably, are wary of it.
"It's especially scary for people with kids," Greenwich resident Amy Sands said.
"Yeah [it's unsettling] and who knows where it came from?" Chris Berry added.
Greenwich Conservation director Denise Savageau said that if anyone happens upon a suspected mountain lion, they should, "Act large, stand up tall, wave your arms and make noises. Don't freeze. You don't want to act like a bunny."
By doing so, the animal more than likely will not view a human as prey, Savageau said.
She added that residents should exercise caution in trying to photograph the animal if it is spotted, preferably from the confines of a building or car.
That's the big question. Cats this big haven't been seen here in 100 years and the Eastern mountain lion is officially extinct. But it's in Greenwich, perhaps an escapee from private zoo or an illegal pet. It is legal to keep one in New York but illegal in Connecticut.
In any event, its presence is real enough to force a weekend charity event to move to another town. The American Cancer Society is relocating an event.
Wildlife experts say mountain lines eat roughly one deer a week and this one could anywhere in the area there's a food source. The experts also said this animal can easily cover 50 miles in a day. It could be in South Norwalk by now.
Ironically the Eastern mountain lion was officially declared extinct only a few months ago -- in March.
Anyone who spots the mountain lion is asked to immediately contact local officials and the DEP's 24-hour hotline (860-423-3333). Those with information about the origin of the animal can also contact the DEP to report it anonymously.
Have you ever seen a mountain lion? What would you do if you saw one? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.
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