National Park Service officials are highly skeptical of a report of a possible mountain lion sighting in Northwest Washington, saying Rock Creek Park biologists and rangers have seen “absolutely no trace” of such an animal.
In the report that aired Thursday night on NBC 4, a woman from McLean Gardens near Glover Archibald Park said she spotted a large cat last week that she suspects could have been a mountain lion. The station also reported on another possible sighting near Connecticut Avenue and the Beltway in February.
But Bill Line, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said Friday park officials have no reason to believe the reports are credible.
“It’s very highly unlikely,” Line said. “A mountain lion? They are not in the Appalachian Mountains. They are in the Rocky Mountains.”
Not only have Rock Creek officials never spotted an animal resembling a mountain lion, Line said there have no reports of toppled garbage cans or suspicious animal kills that could indicate the presence of a predator cat.
“There is literally, no trace whatsoever in Washington,” Line said.
In recent years, however, there have been mounting signs that some mountain lions are moving east into the Midwest.
There are also nearly annual sightings in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, although biologists are split over their veracity. In July, a mountain lion was killed on a highway in Connecticut. State officials later determined the animal had migrated there from South Dakota.
Though it bisects one of the nation’s largest cities and is only a half-mile wide in spots, Rock Creek Park is home to more than 15 mammals, including deer and coyotes. There have even been reports of wild turkey sightings.
In 2010, the security camera at an apartment building on Connecticut Avenue near Van Ness, about three blocks from a tributary to Rock Creek, recorded what appeared to be a black bear.
But National Park Service officials said at the time they had no indication that a bear was ever in the park within the city. In July, however, a jogger on Beach Drive near Military Road also reported seeing a black bear in Rock Creek Park, according to NBC 4.