Checking on mountain lion rumor

Published 8:59 am Friday, March 25, 2011

Lately I’ve been hearing rumors about some folks in the Courtland area spotting a mountain lion.

Forrest Hart and McDonnell share a moment after Hart was recognized for earning his Eagle Scout last year.

So I contacted Julia Dixon, spokeswoman for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Richmond. Julia said there have been no confirmed sightings of the eastern cougar in 100 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month announced it is officially extinct.

The eastern cougar once roamed the eastern United States from Maine to South Carolina and from Michigan to Tennessee, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It has been presumed extinct for years.

That’s not to say that Dixon doesn’t believe that a mountain lion may have been spotted.

“It is within the realm of possibility,” she said. “Someone could’ve illegally purchased one. The Internet just makes all kinds of things accessible.”

Assuming that’s the case, the lion is likely to have been raised by humans and therefore less elusive.

“It would be acclimated to people,” she said.

Dixon checked with her agency’s regional manager and a local biologist; neither received reports of a mountain lion.

If anyone does, call the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 804-829-6580.

• Boy Scouts Ben Scarboro and Forrest Hart met Gov. Bob McDonnell during a banquet recognizing those who earned their Eagle Scout rank in 2010.

Each scout received a certificate from the local Royal Arch Chapter of Masons in Newport News during the Scouting’s Legacy of Leadership Banquet hosted by Colonial Virginia Council of the Boy Scouts of America at the Newport News Marriott.

McDonnell was given the 2010 Good Scouter Award, presented annually by the Colonial Virginia Council. The award recognizes a citizen within the community for achievements and leadership.

• Windsor High School student Jake Smith placed first in carpentry during the 2011 SkillsUSA District I Leadership Conference/Competitive Events.

A student at the Pruden Center for Industry & Technology, Smith qualified for the 2011 Virginia SkillsUSA Leadership Conference/Competitive Events in Hampton in April.

The Pruden Center is a regional career and technical education facility serving high school students and adults from Isle of Wight County and Suffolk. Smith was accompanied to the competition by building trades instructor John Thompson.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to create a skilled workforce.