In October 2007 the spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC),
Jerry Feaser, was quoted by various newspapers regarding the Jacobs photos. He
said the strange looking animal in the Jacobs photos is "definitely" a "skinny
People outside of Pennsylvania may not know that a large
percentage of people inside Pennsylvania say the PGC is not trustworthy, because
the PGC has stated for years, emphatically, that there are no mountain lions in
Pennsylvania, even though hundreds
of people in Pennsylvania, including many government employees, have seen
The PGC's historical approach to mountain lion
sightings is relevant to understanding their approach to the Jacobs
Until recently, whenever the sighting of a mountain lion was reported in PA,
the intial response from the PGC was to say the sighting was a
misidentification. Whenever a witness strongly contested that reaction, the fall
back response by the PGC was to say the animal might have been an escaped pet
mountain lion, at best. The animal could not be a wild mountain lion,
because "there are no wild mountain lions in Pennsylvania."
This was the
approach of the PGC until a farmer named Roger saw a mountain lion, along with
several other people on his remote farm, during a large outdoor party -- a party
which included a big roast pig barbeque, near the edge of a forest.
mountain lion came and went. No one was attacked or threatenned, but in the
process of reporting the sighting Roger inquired if other sightings had been
reported in the area. He was told by the PGC that there were no other sightings,
and that he himself did not see a mountain lion ... because "there are no
mountain lions in Pennsylvania". That would have been the end of the story, if
Roger had not been ... Pennsylvania State Senator Roger Madigan.
did not like being told that he did not see a mountain lion on his farm. After
gathering more information on local sightings he called a meeting in his office
with the PGC. He invited another wildlife agency to the meeting -- the only
agency that could assert jurisdiction over the heads of the PGC regarding the
mountain lion issue. That agency was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The
USFWS can assert jurisdiction regarding moutain lions under the Endangered
Senator Roger Madigan is surely an intelligent man, intelligent enough to
know how he would have felt for the rest of his life if a child, possibly his
own grandchild, had been killed or mauled by a mountain lion at his party on his
farm. He would have blamed himself for being unaware of the risk he created with
an irresistable mix of stimuli and opportunity. He would have also blamed the
PGC for leading him, and everyone else in his community, into a false sense of
security about mountain lions in Pennsylvania.
The push of the meeting in
Madigan's office was apparently to force the PGC's official position to
something more rational-sounding, like "There might be mountain lions in
That change to the official position would not cause public panic ... but it
might make the difference between no caution whatsoever, and basic sensible
caution, in situations where small children are playing in the woods unattended,
perhaps during outdoor summer barbeques where enticing smoke is wafting into the
forest. These situations are common in Pennsylvania in the summer. Mere
awareness of the potential might prevent a horrible tragedy for a
Only those people who attended the meeting in Madigan's office
know exactly what was said, but it must have been a proud moment for U.S.
federalism, because the USFWS afterward announced that there "needs
to be a study" to determine whether mountain lions exist in Pennsylvania,
and the study should be conducted directly by the USFWS.
It didn't need
to be trumpeted on television news. It was a subtle way to communicate what
needed to be communicated ... to any citizen down the road who might have a
reason to inquire: Yes, there might be mountain lions in Pennsylvania.
No person has ever been attacked by one in PA, and no mountain lions have
been killed or captured in PA, but that doesn't mean you should completely let
your guard down in the woods, especially with small children present. Too many
families elsewhere on this continent have learned that lesson, especially in
Merely informing people of the possibility of mountain lions in
Pennsylvania would not cause a panic, as it never does out west, but the death
of a child by a mountain lion in Pennsylvania would create some measure of panic
and terror in Pennsylania, and all surrounding states.
The USFWS now asks Pennsylvanians to send sighting reports of mountain lions
directly to the USFWS, rather than to the PGC, in apparent recognition of the
PGC's long-standing practice of whitewashing any sighting reports sent their
Understanding the Motives
The USFWS receives its funding from everyone's taxes, but the PGC receives
the lion's share of its funding from the sale of hunting licenses in
Pennsylvania. Revenue from hunting licenses in Pennsylvania might be
reduced if hunters were afraid to go into the woods by themselves, due to fear
of a mountain lion attack. The same effect might occur if the wives of hunters
in PA were too worried to let their husbands go hunting by themselves. A
substantial portion of hunters in Pennsylvania hunt alone.
about some other strange animal in the woods of Pennsylvania might have the same
effect, or so the PGC feared.
Immediately after the first story ran
about the Jacobs photos (in the Brandford Era newspaper) the PGC chastised the
news editor about it. Feaser phoned the editor of the newspaper and told him
that he was "spreading panic" in Pennsylvania and doing a "disservice to the
public". Feaser urged the editor to write a follow-up story with a retraction
stating that the strange animal is merely a mangy bear. Feaser said he was
"certain" that the Jacob's creature is nothing more than a skinny mangy bear,
and he offered
a photo of a skinny mangy bear.
The news staff at the Bradford Era newspaper thought the bear in the PGC's
photo (shown above) looked distinctly unlike the Jacobs creature in various
ways, so they did not promote the PGC's assertion that it is a case of mistaken
identity, as Feaser urged them to do.
The PGC's historical approach to
mountain lion sightings was inappropriate enough to justify federal intervention
... so should the media defer to their opinion about the Jacobs
The PGC still endeavors to create the impression that many people
secretly own pet mountain lions and some of those pet mountain lions escape
their confines every so often ... resulting in occassional sightings of mountain
lions in wild.
The PGC is not the only state wildlife agency that tries
to create this same impression. Some state agencies among the midwest and
eastern states will point to a single case within their state where there was an
arrest, then use that arrest to propagate the notion that captive mountain lions
are common and numerous in their state.
The facts are: 1) Any kind of
lion eats a lot of meat, and thus costs a lot of money to keep alive, and 2)
wild mountain lion cubs quickly become very undesrieable as family pets, and 3)
captive mountain lions were more common in the past than now, but they weren't
very common back then either, and 3) outside of zoos, captive mountain lions are
very, very rare these days. They are certainly more rare than wild mountain
The Jacobs Photos - Trail Cam Bigfoot Photo Analysis