by BETH ALTENA
Last week’s front page article reported that DNR Wildlife Specialist John Niewoonder did not believe people reporting a string of cougar sightings in the Rockford area were actually spotting cougars. Michelle Bieke of the Lake Bella Vista area took exception to this opinion. She called the Squire on Friday, May 18 to comment on the article.
Bieke said she was at home in her condominium at Cannon Place at Myers Lake and Belding Road on April 13. Around 9:30 p.m., when the light outside was dusky, she looked into her wooded back yard. She was talking on the phone.
“I expected to see the usual bunny rabbit. First I saw the body, then my eyes went to the head. I saw how rounded it was. It was definitely not a bobcat,” she stated.
She said a tarp had blown off her deck and was on the ground in the yard, and the cougar had been sniffing. She said she screamed, and the big cat looked right at her.
“I yelled, ‘Oh, my god, there is cougar in my back yard,’” she stated.
The person she was talking to told her she was crazy, there was no way she was looking at a cougar.
Bieke said she is not reassured by the DNR’s insistence that there is little to fear in a possible local attack by a cougar. She is concerned about neighborhood children in the areas where a cougar sighting has been reported.
“I tell you I literally take a frying pan and a wooden spoon to the door before I let my little dog out,” she stated.
She also believes that if her sighting was actually a cougar, the others may be real as well and said there are similarities to the accounts, such as being always near water and woods.
“I know I saw what I saw, and I’m not a crazy person,” she said.