Mountain lion may have been spotted in Lafayette, police warning - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mountain lion may have been spotted in Lafayette, police warning residents

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LAFAYETTE, GA (WRCB) -

North Georgia residents are convinced a mountain lion is roaming a wooded area in the city of Lafayette.
 
Mountain lions, also identified as cougars or pumas, are normally found near the west coast but the Tennessee State Wildlife Resource Agency says there have been several sightings in Tennessee recently which hasn't happened since the early 1900s.

Now, Lafayette police say at least 3 eyewitnesses have seen a large cat roaming different neighborhoods. The cat is described as being 6-8 feet long and more than 100 pounds with a long tail. Eyewitness Connie Forester tells Channel 3 she believes it's a mountain lion.

 "It was large, it was a big cat, it wasn't somebody's pet kitten, it was a big cat," said Forester. 

She was out on her morning walk around Dogwood Circle, when she saw the animal. 

"I just saw it run across the road," said Forester. " I thought I need to turn around and go home."

Forester said she quickly went inside and locked the door.
  
Reporter: "You are certain it's not a bobcat?" Forester: "Well it didn't have a short tail, it was not a bobcat." 

Several more neighbors said they've heard it too and almost all witness accounts describe a high-pitched sound of "a woman screaming in pain." 
 
"It sounds like a woman screaming, several people have heard it, " said Forester. 

Fearing for the safety of other neighbors and their children, she called police. 

"I think they just thought I was a crazy old woman and as I told Stacey.... I  am a crazy old woman but I did see the big cat," said Forester. 

Captain Stacey Meeks opened up an investigation and it turns out, two other witnesses have seen the animal too. He consulted with cougar experts who say it's possible a cougar or mountain lion has claimed territory but unlikely.  Two wildlife biologists with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, searched the area for tracks on Tuesday with no luck. Still police say they aren't taking any chances.

"We just wanted to kind of issue a warning to citizens of our community to be vigilant, keep an eye out for this animal and call 911 if you see anything,' said Capt. Meeks, Lafayette Police Dept. 

Police are asking all parents to keep an eye on their children too just in case. 

"We also have at least 2 different residences we spoke to that have live stock that are missing," said Capt. Meeks. 

According to reports, two goats and several chickens are gone without a trace. 

"If you feel threatened by an animal, you have the right to defend yourself, " said Capt. Meeks. " We just want people to be vigilant."

Officials say it is illegal to kill a cougar -- except in the case of imminent death or injury.

Police encourage residents to call Walker County 911 (706-375-7810) to report any sighting of the alleged mountain lion, they are trying to keep track of the animal for wildlife officials. 

Since September of 2015, there have been a few confirmed sightings of cougars or mountain lions in Tennessee. A trail camera captured one in Obion county, DNA analysis confirmed another in Carroll county and cameras captured at least four others in Humphreys county. 

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