July 26, 2008

Night Camera May Answer Mountain Lion Question

By Cathy Benson [email protected]

Ben Shrader, of Bedford, is a volunteer doing a motion camera project, particularly along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail, called the Appalachian Trail project. It could put the issue to rest that there are no mountain lions in Virginia. These pictures came from the Cove Mountain area of Botetourt before the fire.

Shrader once saw what he believes to be a mountain lion in the Blue Ridge Parkway area but he has his doubts as well. But he wants to make it clear -- "This is not a cougar hunt." The animals he gets are also part of the Appalachian Trail project. These pictures were taken with a Cudde Back motion camera. Animals can be just as curious as people -- the doe and her fawn and the coyote in the photos sure prove the point.

Here are some of Shrader's comments to community journalist Cathy Benson in an e-mail:

"When I moved my 2 cameras off sets on the AT July 4, I got a message was that a cougar was up a tree with a deer south of Buchanan near Route 43. I could not get back in touch with the fellow. I called a neighbor who thought it was a hoax, and said the area where he reported to have been was now burned. But when a article came out last week about a sighting near New Castle, ironically it was in a chronological sequential time line from Smith Mountain Dam to Ayers Road to Feldspar Road to Buchanan to New Castle. Maybe someone will get lucky some day."

And he continued, "Here are some of the latest photos. Lots of bears and a good year for bobcats. A fellow AT [Appalachian Trail] volunteer lost a camera in the fire, but I had moved from Cove Mountain South of Jennings Creek. When I was leaving Jennings Creek July 4 it was very smoky. I heard on the radio later that a section of AT was closed."

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