Here is another case of a big cat photo being hyped as something it’s not. A reporter in upstate New York has tried to track down the facts of a rumor that a mountain lion was struck by a vehicle in that state. An image search would have solved this in seconds.
I originally heard the Port Byron story from two readers who approached me independently at Saturday’s Big East Camping and Outdoors Show at the Turning Stone Events Center in Verona. Then in church Sunday morning, another man approached me and wanted to know if I had heard anything about a mountain lion that was hit by a school bus recently near Port Byron.
This week I was sent a photo of what was supposed to be the mountain lion in the back of someone’s truck. I could not find out,though, who took the photo or where it was taken.
However, shortly after posting this story. A reader made me aware of a story posted on chicago.cbslocal.com of a mountain lion shot in the western Illinois town of Morrison. The photo on that story looks identical to the one that was sent to me.
The rumor, that the cat had been hit by a school bus, got attached to this picture from Facebook and the story circulated. When people badly wish to believe the story is true, it gets circulated. Sadly, people will not hear about or remember that it was fake. They will remember mountain lion in New York and assume that where there is smoke there is fires. Where there is smoke, there is often social media, these days.
A Google image search on this image sent me directly to the Chicago story from November of 2013.
There is no identified breeding population of pumas in New York state or anywhere in the northeast U.S.
Tip: Marcus Schneck