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June 23, 2008

SC mountain lion an Internet hoax

Most people in this day and age get at least some of their news from the Internet and so it's not a surprise that a sizable portion of the information on the World Wide Web is incorrect. One such story floating around via e-mail is of a wild mountain lion being struck by a car and severely wounded recently east of Greenwood in Saluda County.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has received numerous phone calls and e-mails regarding the so-called mountain lion and wants the public to be assured this is a hoax.

The hoax e-mail says, among other things, that "Wally Tiernan" struck the mountain lion on Highway 178 and an officer from DNR was called to dispatch the animal. No officer or any other personnel from DNR in Region 3 (which covers Saluda) or any other region in South Carolina has received a call or dealt with any mountain lion.

"The photo that was attached to the e-mail was also a giveaway," says DNR Furbearer Project supervisor Jay Butfiloski, "It appears to be taken in a taxidermy shop out West due to the types of animals mounted on the walls."

It should also be noted that a wild mountain lion or cougar has not been documented in South Carolina in many decades. The only possibility of such an animal would be as an escaped "exotic" pet.

The popular and reliable website Snopes specializes in deflating Internet rumors and lists the hoax with the same pictures from February of this year. It lists the story as "true," but with the twist that the original photos are of a mountain lion killed by a truck in Arizona. It goes further to note the story has been altered in numerous states to make it a hoax with the latest update from June 19 and the aforementioned "Wally Tiernan" addition.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.


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