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Berkeley Co. Residents Report Mountain Lion Sightings

What is killing large animals in Berkeley County? Some residents say they are convinced it is a mountain lion.

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. - What is killing large animals in Berkeley County?

Last week several large animals, including two miniature horses, were killed. Berkeley County Animal Control and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have ruled that wild dogs are responsible for these killings. But some residents say they are convinced it is a mountain lion.

We went out Monday night to speak with a family in Falling Waters who says they saw a mountain lion right in their backyard.

"Over here on the edge of the woods in the backyard,” said Falling Waters resident Caitlyn Harmison, pointing to the edge of her yard where a wooded area begins. “And it was turned around walking into the woods so I got a really good shot of its back and its tail."

What we found turned out to be more than just talk when they showed us tracks near their home measuring four by five inches.

They say they saw a mountain lion Sunday night and Monday morning. They say the animal they saw, just 25 feet away from them, was nothing like a dog.

"I’ve never seen a dog crouch down and the back was arched, the tail was sticking straight up and its neck I’d say two feet long neck and it's body length was at least me,” said Falling Waters resident Aaron Whittington. “It was a 150 pound cat."

Since the sightings, the family has kept their dog and children in, let animal control put a trap on their property, and set up a camera.

But DNR told us today they are 90 percent sure what is out there killing livestock is a wild dog. When we showed them pictures of those tracks, this is what they told us:

"Well it's very difficult to identify exactly. But there's a good chance it's a large dog," said Larry Hines of DNR, adding that out of the many game cameras that are already out in the area, none have shown evidence of a mountain lion.

Experts say they are not sure what left those large tracks, but say it is very unlikely that a mountain lion is in this area unless someone kept one illegally and let it loose.

Many residents are not buying what DNR is saying, however. They want to err on the side of caution.

In front of the Potomac Hills neighborhood in Falling Waters, residents have put out a sign to warn others about a possible mountain lion presence. And just down the street in another neighborhood, a group has come together to hand out flyers warning people not to leave their children or pets unattended.

"I’m terrified,” said Falling Waters resident Nina Hodges. “When we walk our dogs, we have to carry guns, our kids can't go outside. Pretty much our life as a whole has changed until this thing is caught."

DNR is asking anyone who has proof of seeing a mountain lion to call them. Click this link for more information on DNR and their contact number. They are asking for photos, track marks, and other types of evidence.

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