The Suburbanite
  • Canton closes park amid mountain lion reports

  • The city of Canton has temporarily closed its Fairhope Nature Preserve amid resident reports of a mountain lion in the area. No creature has been confirmed but city officials made the move as a precaution.

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  • Reports of a mountain lion in Canton and the surrounding area prompted lots of reaction Tuesday but no confirmed sightings.
    Mere talk of such a creature prompted the city to temporarily close its newest park, Fairhope Nature Preserve. The 68-acre preserve has a main entrance at 4422 Lesh Ave. NE. It’s east of Millvale Avenue NE, where a resident called police twice Monday to report spotting a mountain lion, also known as a cougar.
    City Engineer Dan Moeglin, whose department oversees the fledgling park, said the park closure was a precautionary measure. He wasn’t sure how long it would last.
    “Until we get some more firm details ... we don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way,” he said.
    As dusk approached Monday evening, a resident in the 3500 block of Millvale Avenue NE called city police, certain he had spotted a mountain lion in the area.
    It turns out one person saw the animal twice, once at 4:45 and again at 6 p.m.
    Officials took the sighting seriously, calling out county park rangers, state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and even a state patrol airplane to search the area.
    They found nothing.
    A similar report Tuesday morning made its way to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife. It came in around 10:30 a.m. from a man riding a four-wheeler on Beck Avenue NE, not far away from Fairhope Nature Preserve in Nimishillen Township and Louisville.
    The wildlife officer assigned to Stark County continued to look into the reports but found nothing to confirm the possible sightings, said Jamey Graham, spokeswoman for the agency’s Akron area office. That means no tracks, feces or other signs of the animal’s presence.
    “We don’t want the public to think we’re not taking this seriously. We just don’t have anything concrete,” she said.
    One thing that is certain: If there is an animal out there, it didn’t come from Stump Hill Farm in Perry Township.
    Stump Hill has two cougars, both featured in a recent Capital One “What’s in Your Wallet?” commercial. Both animals and the other carnivores at the farm are accounted for, Lee Huntsman, Stump Hill’s operator, said Tuesday.
    Early Tuesday morning, Peggy Pflieger, who lives with her family in the 5300 block of Lesh Avenue NE in Nimishillen Township, called The Repository to report that Pinky, a four-pound black Chihuahua in her fenced backyard, had been attacked and killed Monday night about 7:45 p.m.
    It’s unclear what killed the dog — as no one saw what happened — but the family suspects it could have been a mountain lion.
    “She had puncture wounds and she bled out,” said Pflieger, who added she and her daughter had left the house only for short while to pick up a takeout order of food. “My husband and grandson were working in the garden on the other side, so they didn’t see it. But we have a brown Lab, and he probably scared it away.”
    Page 2 of 2 - News of possible sightings prompted one Canton resident to recall similar sightings last year. Rosemary Diamond, who lives in teh 1100 block of Longbranch Drive NE, told The Repository by e-mail Wednesday.
    "Last summer I saw this mountain lion at the edge of our backyard," Diamond wrote. "Woods and a creek separate our yard from a church on 44th Street NE. I reported this to my 'no nonsense ex-police officer' husband when he returned home. He said I was crazy.
    "A week or so later, I saw it again, in the back yard. This time my husband was home and he saw it also. I told him we should report it, but he said no one would believe it."

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