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The Year of the Greenwich Mountain Lion ... Sort Of

The Greenwich Mountain Lion reflects upon the year since some Greenwich residents thought their lives had become scenes out of 'Wild Kingdom' when a mountain lion invaded the bucolic environs of town.

It's been a year since the '' was spotted in town, setting off all sorts of speculation on its origins, lion sightings being phoned into Greenwich Police, and prompting the closings or restricting access to area facilities.

It all began on May 31 and continued through June 5 with private residents and even a Greenwich Emergency Medical Service crew reporting they saw a large cat in the area of the King Street campus of Brunswick School.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection confirmed the existence based on a blurry photo one witness was able to take as well as scat found in the area. Posters popped up on utility poles warning of the mountain lion's existence. , prompting relocation of the annual Relay for Life benefit.

It all ended, or so officials thought when the fickle feline headed east. State DEEP officials speculated that the cat could've indeed tread the waters of the Connecticut River and traveled to Milford. It was there on June 11, 2011 that the suspected Greenwich mountain lion met its fate—it was struck and killed by a SUV on the Wilbur Cross Parkway.

State DEEP spokesman Dwayne Gardner told Greenwich Patch this week there haven't been any reports of lion sightings in Greenwich since the cat—which the DEEP determined came from South Dakota—was killed. However, there have been "some reports statewide but none of them have been found to be credible."

Not long after relocating from , the laced with a healthy dose of humor.

A Greenwich Mountain Lion page on Facebook was created, gathering a following of thousands more quickly than a group of ants descending upon a picnic. GML (as it prefers to be known as) has nearly 5,000 FB friends. GML's favorite flick is ‘The Lion King,’ natch! Favorite singer: it's not Lionel Richie. And there's even a Twitter handle.

GML says the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) position that there isn't a resident mountain lion population in the Nutmeg state is poppycock.

On the first anniversary of the initial sighting of GML in Greenwich the fleeting feline took a few moments for a 'lion-terview' with Greenwich Patch. That is of course, before in the Chickahominy section of Greenwich.

Here's what GML had to say:

Patch: What’s up pussycat? Do you channel Tom Jones or do you have another favorite cat song?

GML: Thanks for the anniversary celebration a la Patch! No Tom Jones for me (old English men in tight pencil pants actually frighten me). My favorite lion song is “Lion’s Den” by Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce Springsteen. My least favorite lion song is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”...I mean, have you heard The Tokens’ singer do that high pitched “wee-um-mum-e-wayyyyyy” thing? And have you noticed the instrumental part in the middle of the song, where the deranged opera singer explodes into arpeggios? Nearly sends me into a “Mars Attacks” head explosion situation...grrrrr!        

Patch: It’s been a year since you first set your massive paws in Greenwich, creating panic in the backcountry. How did you celebrate the occasion last night? Perhaps watching the transit of Venus ?

GML: “Panic in the Backcountry: the GML Legacy”...perfect! I didn’t mean to cause widespread panic when I got here, but widespread panic it was. By July, most of the old ladies playing golf at were sporting backpacker shotguns in their Prada golf bags! (One blue-haired old bird actually took a bit of fur off my back side; I have consulted an outrageously expensive  plastic surgeon and will be sending her a nasty bill.) I celebrated my first anniversary here eating venison sashimi with 200 of my closest friends at the ...it was fabulous. I skipped the whole Venus thing (having sunlight sear my retinas is not my idea of a celebration), and Venus as a planet is overrated. Too hot, too dry, too much like Arizona.    

Patch: Why did you select Greenwich as your home base? Is it similar to South Dakota (that is where state environmental officials say you traveled from)?

GML: How can you NOT select Greenwich as your home base? It is a leap away from New York City (the best city in the world), it is green, the hills are alive with the sound of DEER, the bank/resident ratio is 50:1, most of the people dress impeccably (hello, pink & green people, I DO NOT mean you!), and it has a ! Greenwich is in no way similar to South Dakota, which has about as many people living in it as one borough of NYC and is famous for being the birthplace of icons like celebrity interviewer (and epileptic seizure inducer) Mary Hart. South Dakota is also famous for Mount Rushmore, but that mountain needs a makeover, some comic relief. I was thinking that George W. Bush should be added to the mountain, “bunnying up” (making rabbit hand shadow-puppets) behind Teddy Roosevelt’s head.  

Patch: What’s your favorite dining hot spot in town? 

GML: Well, I don’t know if it’s “hot” or “haute”, but I have to give a shout out to my friends at on the West Side of Greenwich.  They always wedge a tasty deer hock into their fryolator for me...and serve it up with special seasoning in a 40-gallon bag. The GML Special!  in Glenville is pretty good too...but there’s no fryolator and no seasoning! on the Avenue has fantastic food; I ate there a couple months ago one booth away from Dick Blumenthal (we talked politics over porkbutts). Rawwwrrrrr!!

Patch: When you want a cocktail, what’s your favorite haunt? 

GML: I like the balcony bar at   The convenience of being able to toss overzealous, drunken louts into the Greenwich Harbor cannot be overestimated. 

Patch: For night entertainment, where do you go in Greenwich?

GML: Night entertainment in Greenwich?!  Please. 

Patch: It’ll be a year next week that the mountain lion was killed as it traveled the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford. What was the attraction to Milford? And why were you playing in traffic?

GML: That, as you know, was my cousin Lionel. I think he was headed to the Milford Krispy Kreme...which, like Lionel, which was tragically cut down in its prime. I told him to hitch a ride on the New Haven Line, but he decided to take the scenic route up the Merritt. He was a fearless cat...I was mortified that he was taken out by a Hyundai. 

Patch: There’s continuing speculation that you and other feline friends are stalking Greenwich; even rumors that there’s a family of mountain lions with young cubs stealthily living among us humans. What proof can you offer this is true?

GML: Well, there is an application pending at Planning & Zoning for the construction of a Montessori Lion Academy...so that we can educate our cubs in a progressive educational environment.  The now has a venison department, has a Tuesday Lion Special (spaghetti with deerballs), and is equipping its new Astons with bucket seats that accommodate an elongated (rather than just oversized) tail.  What more proof do you want?!   


Patch: What do you have to say to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection folks who insist “there isn’t any evidence of a resident population” of mountain lions?

GML: I challenge the CT DEEP Mountain Lion Debunking Squad to dispute the learned lectures and writings of Bill Betty, who spoke at the earlier this year, as well as all the comments and observations of the lucid and intelligent people who have reported Connecticut mountain lion sightings to the Cougars of the Valley website.  I would tell the CT DEEP that its penchant for dismissing mountain lion spotters as lunatics reporting close encounters of the third kind is insulting.  I would like to hear their follow up to the East Haddam mountain lion story, since the East Haddam lion was spotted again in April by the town’s Animal Control Officer (presumably someone who knows lions from Labrador Retrievers).  Also, and most importantly, I would LOVE to know the result of the genetic testing on the Milford mountain lion (cousin Lionel)...you know, the testing that the CT DEEP said would “definitively prove” that GML and the Milford lion were one and the same.  The CT DEEP has been pretty quiet about those test results, don’t you think?! 

Patch: What are your top 3 places to visit in Greenwich, and why?

GML: OK, well, , of course. There is nothing better than being able to play “Duck Duck Goose” with the real thing, and Tod’s is duck, duck, goose heaven. I also have a deal with that mean old guy who shoos people out of the park at Sunset: he doesn’t shoo me, and I don’t maul him. I also like strolling the Avenue, since there is a never-ending population of skinnies in 4” heels to chase in and out of price-challenged boutiques.  (I now have a stellar collection of $1,500 handbags that have been thrown at me in the parking lot! My favorite is a teal Prada.) Finally, I like torturing puffy plaid-clad golfers at the . Let’s face it, Greenwich is Xanadu for the well-heeled mountain lion.                  

Barbara Heins (Editor) June 07, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Thanks Brian. It was a fun assignment.
milton milford June 08, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Barbara: GML quipped, "DEEP has been pretty quiet about those test results, don’t you think?!" That caused me to recollect what your Regional Editor stated last year toward the end of July. Corey was apparently considering doing a follow up with DEEP that would either "prove to the ultimate skeptic" that Lionel was the same cat that hiked into Wisconsin in December 2009, or that he was not. If not the same cougar, then, of course, that would indicate there was something else going on. Any chance you could check with Corey to determine whether he simply abandoned that idea, or did he run into some sort of snag?
milton milford June 08, 2012 at 04:10 PM
GML said, "I told him to hitch a ride on the New Haven Line, but he decided to take the scenic route up the Merritt." "Hitch a ride?" Catching "a ride" can be a safe and somewhat reliable mode of travel. Someone should inquiry of GML whether Lionel ever mentioned hitching "a ride," like say from Wisconsin to the Adirondacks?
milton milford June 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
"Also, and most importantly, I would LOVE to know the result of the genetic testing on the Milford mountain lion (cousin Lionel)...you know, the testing that the CT DEEP said would “definitively prove” that GML and the Milford lion were one and the same. The CT DEEP has been pretty quiet about those test results, don’t you think?!" Barbara: GML takes up a very good point. Any chance you would check with DEEP and present what you learn to readers? It would also be sort of interesting to learn who actually found that DNA sample - specifically when, where and under what circumstances. Did the police find the sample, or people from DEEP, or a resident of Greenwich? Why did the finder think it was from the mountain lion; were there tracks in that area, maybe? Did the person happen to take any pictures at the location where they found the sample?

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