I can’t get it off my mind. I still see it when I lay down at night or just close my eyes. Phyllis Combs, Quicksand, Breathitt County.
We ran a story a few weeks ago about a cougar terrorizing the local community. Cougars are also regularly referenced as “mountain lions,” “panthers,” “pumas,” and of course, “catamounts.”
Their bodies are mainly covered in tawny-beige fur, except for the whitish-gray belly and chest, and have black markings decorating the tip of their tails, ears, and around its snout. We thought we would go ahead and give you a detailed description seeing the large felines appear to be becoming regular residents of our Breathitt county community.
We interviewed local resident Phyllis Combs about the mountain lion shortly after running the first story. She called the newspaper and told us she had seen one up on her farm where her granddaughter, Samantha McKnight Bailey, lives with her husband. The farm is a ninety-acre tract described as being on the Leatherwood Road on Lost Creek.
Ms. Jackson told the Times-Voice, “I was driving to the farm to pick up my granddaughter. When I got up to the top of the hill, where we put the garbage bin, I saw it.”
She continued, “He was huge. I looked at him and he crawled across the road, up a hill, his eyes locked on mine the entire time. He was about 20-30 feet from me and I was perfectly terrified and grateful to be in my car.”
We asked her about this “crawl” she described. She told us, “If you own a cat, and if you have ever seen it stalk prey, kind of moving slow and low to the ground as if it wanted to avoid being either seen or heard, that is how it looked to me.”
We asked her whether she thought to snap a picture of the large feline. She told us, “You know, I am nearly 80-years old. I don’t really do the camera phone thing too much. If my granddaughter had been in the car with me, I am sure she would have taken its picture.”
Ms. Combs told us, when the cougar got to the top of the hill, it stood at its full height and she could appreciate the cougar’s height from its shoulder to the ground. She told us it looked like the cougar who’s picture we ran with the first story and the one running with this one.
“I have done some investigating with the neighbors around the farm,” she told us. "There are a number of neighbors reporting dogs and cats missing. That cougar hasn’t gotten my granddaughter’s German Shepherds yet, but it was apparent to me it has been eating pretty well. I have asked my granddaughter to quit going out for the mail after dark.”
Ms. Combs tells us she hasn’t notified the game warden, though that is something she intends to do. She also told us our story just crystallized her memory of the situation and has made the image even more omnipresent and clear to her.
“Strange things is,” she told us, “somehow, I got the impression it was as afraid of me as I was of it. That is really saying something, because I was flat terrified.”
We appreciate Ms. Combs contacting us at the Times-Voice and sharing her story with us. As a community, we are far better off dealing with problems than handling surprises. Particularly, when the surprise may be a 200-pound, wild predator.