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Jefferson County residents urged to take caution after Mountain Lion sighting

Updated: Wednesday, July 30 2014, 01:08 PM EDT

WTOV9.com
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio --  Experts are taking a claim of a possible mountain lion sighting in Jefferson County seriously because an off-duty wildlife officer is the one who witnessed it while on a run.
It was an officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources who saw the animal just feet away from him while at the Fernwood State Forest on Tuesday evening. And it's prompted increased patrols to keep an eye out for the animal and keep you safe.
"He was out running around 6 o'clock and about 50 feet in front, he saw the mountain lion run. Him, being an expert, we definitely knew it was a mountain lion," said ODNR Officer Supervisor Peter Novotny.
It had a long tail, was about 115-150 pounds and was camel in color. That's what sets a mountain lion apart from a smaller bobcat.
According to Novotny, a possible sighting of a mountain lion is rare for Jefferson County -- and the entire state for that matter.
"We haven't had a wild mountain lion in sighting in Ohio for probably 200 some years," Novotny said.  "More than likely, this animal may have been in a pet situation under the Ohio Department of Agriculture controls."
Novotny says if you frequent Fernwood, or live in Jefferson County, you're urged to maintain heightened awareness.
"Do it in groups," he said. "Talk even though a nature walk is great where you're being silent, maybe for the next week or two, get a little bit of chatting going because when they hear those noises, they don't lead to any encounter."
In the meantime, these increased patrols will help increase public safety. If you see anything that resembles a mountain lion, you are urged to contact wildlife officials. The best number is (330) 644-2293.

Jefferson County residents urged to take caution after Mountain Lion sighting


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