FALLING WATERS, W.Va. - John Lutz has been investigating big cat sightings in the Mid-Atlantic region since the early 1960s. In the past 50 years, he says he has documented more than 9,000 reported sightings.
And for the past few days, he has been in Falling Waters, gathering evidence to figure out if there could be a mountain lion roaming around the area.
Lutz says there have been many proven, confirmed reports of wild mountain lions in the Mid-Atlantic region.
"We’ve had about 200 of them in the state of
Now, Lutz is hoping to prove there is a mountain lion in Falling Waters. He has collected blood samples from where one of the horses was killed a few months ago, and has been talking to neighbors about potential sightings.
Although the Department of Natural Resources told us it is highly unlikely a mountain lion could be in the area, Lutz does not agree.
"I’ve asked those DNR officers a thousand times what they are and they just say well, it's a company policy policymakers in the department say we don't have cougars,” said Lutz. “So we don't have cougars."
But one thing he does agree with DNR about: the large animals were likely killed by dogs. And those tracks we showed you last week? He is certain those are dog tracks.
"A cougar track is more oval-shaped…from left to right rather than vertical side," said Lutz.
However, Lutz says that doesn't mean there isn't a cougar in Falling Waters.
"As long as there's adequate water, adequate prey, and adequate cover, there's no logical reason to say a wild cougar cannot be in this area,” said Lutz. “I would say there's a 75 to 90 percent probability that we do have a cougar in this area. The river's nearby, you got plenty of deer around here for prey, and you got all these woods."
Lutz says the DNR does not adequately investigate reports of sightings or tracks, but that he will continue to investigate in falling waters.