After reports of a mountain lion in LaFayette surfaced last week, more people have contacted the Messenger with eyewitness accounts.
Residents have also reported hearing the high-pitched sound attributable to a mountain lion.
Becky Reaves said her husband, Walker County State Prison chaplain Aaron Reeves, saw a mountain lion this past spring on their property off Straight Gut Road, three miles behind Walmart, in LaFayette.
“He is ‘Mr. Practical,’” Reaves said about her husband.
In the middle of the day, Aaron was looking out at the hill on their property and saw what he thought was a strange rock he had never seen before. But then the rock “got up and started walking across the property,” she said.
Her husband described the animal as a large cat with a long tail and “yellowish blonde” in color.
Aaron told his wife the animal “lulled” across and went up the hill from the property.
Aaron then went in and told his wife and the two began searching for the mountain lion.
They came upon a large paw print and called the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Three days later, the DNR arrived at their residence, but rain had already washed the print away.
Luckily, Reaves said, she had snapped a picture of it, with a quarter placed in the print to show its rather large size.
Reaves said she would not allow her grandchildren or dogs to go outside.
The DNR told her they did not see any sign of the presence of a mountain lion and claimed what her husband saw was a “mangy coyote.”
Reaves said her son and son-in-law, both correctional officers, claimed to have seen the mountain lion on the property as well.
“They are not ones to make this up,” she said.
Reaves said she wants the DNR to take these sightings seriously.
“They made us feel like idiots,” she said. “We’re not crazy.”
Nancy Skidmore, who lives off Ga. Highway 193 at the five-mile marker near Shinbone Ridge, said she was driving home about 10 years ago when she saw a large cat with a long tail. She claims it was a mountain lion. It was crossing the highway, with a cub in tow.
Skidmore said there is a spring near her residence, which is close to Dripping Springs Road, and she believes the animal gets water from that area.
No one, she said, believed her, including her husband and son.
Skidmore said she called the University of Georgia’s Walker County Extension Office and was told that mountain lions were not in this area.
“I’m not crazy. I know what I saw,” Skidmore said.
Skidmore said people made fun of her when she would tell them of the sighting, so she quit speaking of the event.
“They thought I was crazy,” she said.
Given the large range of a mountain lion and due to the heavily-wooded area that stretches for miles and miles, Skidmore said, the animal could have came from anywhere.
About five years ago, her son went out onto the property at night to smoke a cigarette.
He had a flashlight with him and heard something behind him. She said her son flashed the light at the object and it was a mountain lion.
She said her son ran home and locked the doors and never doubted its existence again.
Over the years, two of her dogs, one a housedog and another a stray she took in, disappeared.
She said that prior to the dogs missing, they would smell the air and refuse to go outside to use the bathroom.
One day, one of the dogs was tied to a leash and when she returned, the dog was gone and the leash was broken.
In the spring 2015, Skidmore said, she was near the spring in her backyard and located a large paw print. She said the footprint was too large for a deer or a pig and sunk into the mud. Her son saw the print as well.
She said when she was about six years old and living in Floyd County in the 1960s, her father killed two mountain lions, on separate occasions, because, he said, they were a threat to safety.
“I remember it made a horrible screaming noise,” Skidmore said.