Mountain Lion Killed in West Virginia (and Elsewhere)
By David Emery
Netlore Archive: Viral images show an unusually large mountain lion (cougar) purportedly killed near Parkersburg, West Virginia, Altoona, Pennsylvania, Cadiz, Kentucky, and other unlikely locations.
Description: Viral images
Circulating since: Feb. 2008
Status: Mislabeled (see details below)
Email contributed by Tina P., March 3, 2008:
Subject: Massive Mountain Lion (near parkersburg, wv)
This lion was hit between Grantsville and Walker WV.. by a car. Game and Fish had to come and put him down. He charged at the Fish and Game guy in the process. Look at his PAWS!.
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
Analysis: As so often happens with viral images, the photos above which date from December 2007 and are authentic have attained urban-legendary status thanks to folks making up stories about them before passing them along.
The true facts are these. The cougar in question, estimated at 200 to 220 pounds and over 7 feet in length, was run over when it leaped in front of a pickup truck driven by Arizona resident Marshall Rader on Highway 64 between Williams and Valle, Arizona. It was still alive but mortally injured when Rader and his wife got out to examine it, so they dialed 9-1-1 and waited for someone from the Arizona Department of Public Safety to arrive and put it down. The man posing with the carcass is DPS officer Jason Ellico, who dispatched the animal on the scene and later skinned it as a demonstration for local Boy Scouts.
Someone, presumably Mr. or Mrs. Rader, emailed the pictures to friends, who emailed them to their friends, etc., and an urban legend was born. The first fabrication appended to the photos was the claim that the accident had occurred elsewhere in Arizona between Prescott and Ash Fork, to be exact, roughly 60 miles or so from the true location.
By early March 2008, the story had changed yet again such that the cougar was said to have been killed southeast of Parkersburg, West Virginia between Grantsville and Walker. West Virginia game officials were quick to label the revised message a hoax, noting that the accident had also been falsely reported to have occurred in Arkansas. Later versions claimed the cougar was shot near Altoona, Pennsylvania, Cadiz, Kentucky, and other unlikely locations.
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More cougar / mountain lion stories:
Mule Attacks Mountain Lion
Emailed photos purportedly show a mule attacking and killing a mountain lion in Arizona (or Wyoming, depending on version).
Cougar on the Porch!
Emailed photos taken through a screen door show a cougar (mountain lion) prowling the porch or patio of someone's home.
Sources and further reading:
Huge Lion Is Subject of Internet Speculation
Daily Courier (Prescott, AZ), 21 January 2008
Calhoun Mountain Lion Kill Is 'Pure Fiction'
Hur Herald (WV), 26 February 2008
Mountain Lion Exists Only in Hoax
Kentucky New Era, 6 March 2008
West Va. Cougar Kill a Hoax
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9 March 2008
Fake Mountain Lion Email Makes Rounds
WPSD-TV News, 10 March 2008
Talk of Mountain Lions in Pennsylvania Is Pure Fiction
Altoona Mirror, 15 June 2008
Last updated: 07/08/13