According to a “campus alert” sent today to University of Maryland students and staff, a “possible cougar” has been sighted on the College Park campus. The possible cougar has been described as “light tan and tawny brown, about 4 feet long with a 4 foot tail, and weighing about 50 pounds.”

Captain John Brandt of UMD’s Department of Public Safety confirms that the possible cougar was first sighted yesterday. “The first [sighting], which happened a day ago, was not reported to the police department,” says Brandt. “The person who made the report initially wasn’t believed. But then we got a call this morning, around 6 a.m., of another sighting [of the possible cougar].”

Since the release of the campus alert, Brandt says his department has received word of an additional possible cougar sighting. At press time, Brandt’s officers—-and the campus’s video security system—-have yet to spot the possible cougar.

The possible cougar is a new threat for UMD, says Brandt. “We have never dealt with this before,” he says. “[Possible] cougars are not an indigenous species of the state of Maryland. . . . They’re just not seen around here. We will get the occasional report of a coyote on campus, which usually will end up just being a fox.”

Brandt does not know where the possible cougar came from. “Your guess is as good as mine,” he says.

Any sightings of the possible cougar should be reported to university police, at (301) 405-3555.

Full campus alert after the jump.

Subject: Campus Alert / Sighting of Possible Cougar on Campus

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND 20742-6011 301-405-3555 EMERGENCY / DIAL 911 http://www.umdps.umd.edu

CAMPUS ALERT

July 31, 2008

There have been several reliable sightings of an animal fitting the description of a cougar on the campus. The description of the sighted cat is: light tan and tawny brown, about 4 feet long with a 4 foot tail, and weighing about 50 pounds. Several sightings have been reported from the area of Cole Field House, near the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and continuing through the wooded areas to the area of the Comcast Center and Arena Drive Garage. There has been no report of aggressive behavior on the part of the animal, but community members are warned that cougars are a predatory species and that, if seen, the animal should not be approached.

If you see the animal, please contact the university police at 301-405-3555. University police are working with other agencies to remove the animal from the campus area.

Prepared by:

Captain John Brandt Crime Prevention Unit jbrandt@umpd.umd.edu