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Why The Lion Is King In Vermont

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Elsewhere, they are pumas, cougars, or mountain lions. In Vermont, they're called catamounts. For years, Vermonters have used the name on all kinds of businesses. There's Catamount Brewing. And Catamount Auto Parts. And Catamount Landscaping. About 40 such businesses are listed in the Vermont phone books. And the University of Vermont's sports teams are called the Catamounts.

There's only one problem: no official sightings of the long-tailed, 100-pound predators in Vermont since 1881. Oh, some folks claimed to have seen them, but these sightings were written off as ignorance or plain old drunkenness. If the storied beasts were roaming the Green Mountains, why were there no tracks, no carcasses, no evidence at all?

In April, however, three catamount-like creatures were spotted bounding through the snow. An analysis of their feces by the National Fish & Wildlife Forensics Laboratory has just verified the good news. The Green Mountain State now joins Florida as the only Eastern state with confirmed catamount populations. "It was no surprise," says Philip Gentile, marketing director at Catamount Brewing in White River Junction, where the brewers have long maintained a bulletin board of reported sightings. Meanwhile, some say, over in Lake Champlain cruises a Loch Ness-style monster named Champ.Timothy Belknap

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