Riverside police say they doubt a 22-year-old woman’s claim that she saw a cougar climb out of a tree in the 700 block of Leesley Road at 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel issued a press release about the incident Thursday afternoon after it was clear that rumors of a cougar sighting were beginning to spread in the village.
“We have other people calling us because the rumors are starting to spread, “said Weitzel. “There’s evidence there was an animal, but there’s no evidence it was a cougar. There’s nothing to back that up. We’re classifying it as ‘not as reported.'”
According to Weitzel, the woman was walking her dog on Leesley Road when an animal climbed out of a tree and ran off. The woman described the animal’s body as being as big as a tree trunk and being tan, he said. When she saw the animal, she picked up her dog and ran home to phone police.
However, the paw prints police found near the tree are far too small to be a cougar’s, said Weitzel. Police believe the animal may have been a large raccoon or a possum. They have not received any other animal-related complaints in that area, Weitzel said.