Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

June 29, 2012

Big cats spotted in Ashland

The Independent

ASHLAND — Beware of the big cats!

Two separate sightings of what appears to be wild animals in the mountain lion or cougar family were reported to the Ashland Police Department in the last 48 hours, said Maj. Todd Kelley.

Kelley said neither the APD nor the animal control officers dispatched have been able to confirm the sightings. But, as a precautionary measure, they sent out a press release warning citizens to be on the watch.

The alleged sightings were in the areas of Eloise Street in the west side of town and in the Forest Avenue area in South Ashland. They are warning residents that if they do see a suspicious animal do not approach, call 911 and there will be an appropriate response.

“It was in two different neighborhoods and, within the city limits, quite a ways apart from each other,” Kelley said. “That made us believe there might be something to it.”

When the second sighting was reported, Kelley said, the APD decided it would be better to issue a release so citizens could be aware.

 “We thought it was maybe more like a wildcat but they said it was bigger than that,” he said. “We said mountain lion or cougar species in the press release because we don’t know what else to call it.”

Animal control responded to the sighting on Forest Avenue but didn’t spot the big cat, he said.

It’s another example of the outdoors coming into the city. There is a heavy deer population here and have been sightings of foxes, wolves and even an occasional bear inside the city limits, Kelley said.

“There are small (deer) herds in residential areas,” he said, naming the 39th Street area and Ashland Avenue area. “It’s nothing for me to come over the hill (on Ashland Avenue) and see six or eight deer.”

But cougars and mountain lions? Wild kingdom has come to Ashland.

“This is more of a precautionary thing for us,” Kelley said. “We want people to be aware and be careful if they encounter one of those animals or any wild animal.”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.