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Swan River Cougar Photographs Email

Summary:
Email with attached photographs of a cougar on a patio deck claims the photographs were taken in Swan River, Manitoba (Full commentary below).



Status:
Genuine photographs - description is inaccurate.

Example:(Submitted, April 2007)
Subject: Cougar pics From Swan River...

I know what some of you guys are thinking with subject "Cougar pics", but no.....it's From a guy out in Swan River,Mb. Pictures were taken from his kitchen onto his deck.

The cat was "watching his little kids" play on the kitchen floor. Freakin' Scary!

Cougar On Deck 1

Cougar On Deck 2

Cougar On Deck 3

Cougar On Deck 4




Commentary:
According to this email forward, the attached photographs of a wild cougar were snapped from the kitchen of a residence in Swan River, Manitoba, Canada. The photographs are genuine. However, they were not taken in Swan River, or anywhere else in Canada. In fact, the photographs were taken several years ago in the US state of Wyoming. An article in the December 2006 issue of Wildcat News, explains:
Circulating the Internet, these photographs of a cougar on a patio deck have been attached to stories claiming the images came from New York or Pennsylvania. The photographs were actually taken in Lander, Wyoming, by Dr. Dave Rodgers. Wyoming is a western state with a population of several thousand cougars. Dr. Rodgers lives in a riparian corridor with a good cougar habitat and plenty of deer, so sightings are not surprising in the area.
Like many "wild creature" pictures that travel via email, various recipients have claimed regional "ownership" by altering the location where the photographs were taken before forwarding the message on. Versions have claimed a number of different locations across the United States and Canada, including Michigan, South Dakota, Iowa, Texas, Oregon, and Ontario as well as New York and Pennsylvania as mentioned above.

Moreover, the claim that the cougar was watching the photographer's young children play in the kitchen is unsubstantiated and was most probably added simply to increase the shock value of the email.

The popularity of the photographs as a subject for email forwarding is perhaps a manifestation of what has been dubbed "mountain lion mania". In his article, Cougar Hysteria, Dave Hamilton of the Missouri Department of Conservation outlines how "mountain lion mania" has generated many false sightings of cougars, even in areas where the animals are rare. Bobcats and even house cats have been regularly mistaken for cougars in various parts of the United States and elsewhere. He notes:
It seems that deep down, somewhere in our psyche, many want these animals to exist so much that these kinds of events have become commonplace, even in our populated and heavily-modified environments. This phenomenon even exists in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries that don't have native large cats.
For the record, wildlife authorities believe that some cougars do live in Manitoba, although the animal in these emailed photographs is certainly not one of them.

References:
Cougar Hysteria
Wildcat News The Cougar Network: Prairie Region
Pat Durkin column: Latest cougar photo intrigues experts
E-mail pics likely a hoax: official

Last updated: 24th April 2007
First published: 24th April 2007

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen