By RICH FOLEY
So far, 2017 has been a year for sightings of animals not often seen in these parts, sometimes ones that may not even exist. I’ve seen two real ones myself, plus examined dubious internet “evidence” of a third. On that one, you’ll have to judge for yourself.
Several months ago, while on my way to the office, I saw a very large, tawny-colored cat crossing Morenci Road at a high rate of speed between Ingall and White Pine Highways. My first thought was that it might have been a cougar, mostly because I grew up watching those old Mercury Cougar commercials with the car’s namesake feline featured.
But there’s a whole group of somewhat related cats it could have been, mostly based on what part of the country (or world) you’re in. In various areas, a large cat might also be called a panther, puma, leopard, wildcat, bobcat, lynx, catamount or cheetah. There might be even more names to choose from, including what two experts tell me was the one that I saw.
I reported my experience to a retired park ranger I know, and after answering a series of questions, he told me that I had spotted a mountain lion. They’re pretty rare in these parts, but they’re seen occasionally. A second ranger later concurred with that opinion, so I have an official answer to that mystery.
Everyone seems to know what a mountain lion is, making the story much easier to share. If the rangers had called it a catamount, I’d have some explaining to do.
On Saturday, July 15, I made a trip into an area I haven’t been to in quite some time. First, a companion and I went to Pioneer, then north to Hillsdale and Jonesville. We turned east on US-12, then south at US-127. Once we reached Addison, we were back in familiar territory for the journey home. It was a fairly uneventful trip, except for one animal sighting.
Just west of the Bundy Hill area on US-12, a rather large fox crossed the road right in front of us. While I’ve seen foxes before, it’s been at least 20 years, if not much longer, since I spotted one. It was headed south at such a velocity that it seemed as if something was chasing it. If reports I saw later are true, that could be exactly what was happening. Remember, however, that I can’t confirm any of what follows. Consider it to be fiction until proven otherwise. It does, however, make fascinating reading.
Last week, several posts on Facebook told of purported Bigfoot sightings in Hillsdale County. Supposedly on Wednesday, July 12, two men from Ohio, ages 20 and 18, were at an abandoned quarry on Burt Road in Ransom Township when they say they heard a “blood-curdling” scream.
Shortly after that, they saw “Bigfoot” walk up to the quarry waterhole. One man took a photograph with his cell phone, then Bigfoot turned and walked back into a wooded area and both men ran for their truck, conveniently parked in a nearby cemetery. Unfortunately, since the men were at some distance from the creature, the posted photo was pretty fuzzy. A friend of mine, thinking it to be a hoax, commented “wearing that suit while walking through the woods is hard work.”
By the next day, sightings were reported near the area of Prattville and South Waldron Roads, causing some to think Bigfoot was headed southeast. On the evening of Monday, July 17, a business owner reported a “hairy beast” looked into the windows of his business on Gilbert Road. He claimed to have gone outside with a rake to corner Bigfoot and take a photo.
Unfortunately, the beast got away and he was unable to get a photo of it. He did, however take a photo of a gigantic footprint. Bigfoot himself took off in an easterly direction. An area goat farmer reported that the farm’s “guard llama” signaled the presence of a “large dark form” near the fence row. I have no idea how it was able to signal that. That’s the last reported sighting at this point. And to think I was in the area during some of the excitement. Where to next, Bigfoot? Fayette?
Another friend, who is originally from Hillsdale County, said that Bigfoot sightings have been reported there for years. I found two Toledo Blade articles concerning a 1989 sighting posted online. I’m pretty sure it’s all some sort of hoax, but I’m keeping my door locked, just in case. And I hope that the fox I saw got away unscathed.