UPDATE 7/16/12 @ 5:30 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- They're coming fast and furious -- we're talking about big cat sightings in Ashland neighborhoods.
On Monday afternoon, a woman along Hilton Avenue called 911 after spotting a big cat -- she called it a mountain lion twice. The second time, she says it was with two young cubs.
Over the weekend, there was a confirmed bobcat sighting.
WSAZ.com's Randy Yohe's hunted down the answer about what sort of animal people could be seeing -- bobcat or cougar (mountain lion).
Midland Heights resident Nan O'Hara said she used her trusty air horn Monday morning to scare away what other Midland Heights neighbors also are convinced they're seeing in their back yards -- some big fearsome feline predators.
“I saw a mountain lion," O'Hara said. "It had a big tail with fur on the end, and it had a strong gait -- and it was big.”
Neighbor June McKnight added, “It was big and had a long tail and a gait like a horse, and it was very muscular.”
From the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sgt. Buddy Grayson responded, “It's likely a bobcat. We've had no documentation of mountain lions in the state.”
Grayson says it's more than likely what people are spotting around Ashland is not a mountain lion or cougar but a smaller feline predator -- a bobcat, which is a true Kentucky wildcat.
He says they are found and hunted all over the Bluegrass State -- 10 harvested in Boyd County last year and 71 in neighboring Carter County.
And the experts say the bobcat is usually as scared of people as they are of it.
“They only usually approach people if they are sick," Grayson said. "We have no documentation of any bobcats attacking anyone. They will eat fawns and small rodents and animals."
Working with Ashland Police, city animal control officers have their tranquilizer guns at the ready -- hoping to get to the next neighborhood 911 call of a big cat sighting before the feline flees.
David Branham with Animal Control told folks, “Don't do anything, turn on the lights or startle it. Just call 911, and we will respond and hopefully get it before it gets away.”
Ashland Police are asking people to be alert and careful with pets and small children and to be smart. They say do not shoot at or approach a big cat, but to call 911 right away.
They say a bobcat made its way through the Midland Heights neighborhood Saturday morning, and they're doing their best to track down the animal.
"It's going to be a daunting task," Major Mark McDowell of Ashland Police said. "It's much easier said than done when trying to capture an animal like that, but we are going to make an effort."
Residents are asked to keep an eye on kids and pets playing outside, and to call police right away if they see anything.
"We're so densely populated, and we don't want a tragedy to unfold as a result of somebody trying to kill an animal like that within the city limits," McDowell said.
Police say they're working with wildlife experts and are investigating the possibility of more than one big cat in the area.
UPDATE 7/14/12 @ 10:00 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Several residents in the Middland Heights neighborhood say they have spotted a big cat.
Mark Conley says he heard his dog barking Saturday, and went to check it out. That's when he says he was face to face with the wild animal. Conley says the cat had just killed a deer.
"Is one going to pounce down on me, you know?" Conley said. "I guess I'm confined to my home after 9 o'clock when it gets dark."
The incident has alarmed many in the community, even prompting some to put up fliers to warn other neighbors.
"I will not go out in the backyard, even though it's fenced at night," Ashland resident Nan O'Hara said. "I'm not going to walk my dog at night. I'm not going to take walks at night until this is settled somehow."
Ashland Police are now classifying this as a confirmed sighting. They're alerting residents in the area to exercise caution with children and pets that may play in the area.
About 8:30 a.m. Friday, officers responded to Cheer Street regarding an unconfirmed big cat sighting.
A resident observed what appeared to be a large cat with a long tail in the area.
Police responded, but nothing was located.
This is the third unconfirmed sighting of a large cat (believed to be a cougar/mountain lion) seen in Ashland since June 28. Previous sightings were in the vicinity of Eloise Street and Forest Avenue.
The public is encouraged to call 911 and not attempt to pursue the animal.
The cause for concern is reported sightings of mountain lions and/or cougars.
A resident who lives along Forest Court in Ashland and did not want to be on camera pointed out where earlier this week he saw a cougar.
He says the big cat was just lying down where the backyard meets a wooded area.
Across town, someone living along Eloise Street say they spotted a mountain lion or cougar.
Mary McKinney, who lives along Eloise Street, was skeptical.
"Someone probably saw a big dog," McKinney said. "I don't think we have a big cat roaming around.”
Big cat sightings in two neighborhoods by different people prompted Ashland Police to put out a citywide mountain lion alert.
“We've seen fox and even wolves in the city,"
Ashland Police Major Todd Kelley said. "We're surrounded in Ashland by hunting area, so wild animals in the city are not unheard of.”
Kelley and WSAZ wildlife expert Tom Clay agree -- if mountain lions or cougars are on an Ashland neighborhood prowl, pets and small children would be prime targets for a fearsome feline predator.
“Big cats can come in from out of the mountains, across creeks and rivers looking for a new area to feed," Clay said. "People leave dog food out, and mountain lions will come in to look for something to eat.”
Kelley advises, “Don't approach them. Don't try and make them your friend. Call 911 and we will come out with animal control.”
Recent history shows reports of mountain lion or cougar sightings is West Virginia and southern Ohio, as well as the Kentucky Wildcats.
If you see a big cat, remember don't approach it, call 911.
In the past 48 hours, police have been notified of two alleged sightings of a mountain lion or cougar type species.
The sightings have been in the areas of Eloise Street on the west side of Ashland and on the Forest Avenue area of South Ashland.
No confirmations have been made by police or animal control officers at this time.
Police are urging caution. They said do not approach the animal and call 911 immediately.
+ Ashland, KY
+ Athens, OH
+ Beckley, WV
+ Charleston, WV
+ Clarksburg, WV
+ Clay, WV
+ Gallipolis, OH
+ Huntington, WV
+ Ironton, OH
+ Logan, WV
+ Morgantown, WV
+ Paintsville, KY
+ Parkersburg, WV
+ Pikeville, KY
+ Pomeroy, OH
+ Ripley, WV
+ Spencer, WV
+ Sutton, WV
+ Wayne, WV
+ Wheeling, WV
+ Williamson, WV