NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said that the animal Woodbridge residents believed was a mountain lion is most likely a bobcat.

Woodbridge residents reported seeing a mountain lion to the police department on Friday. One report came in from Salem Road and another on Pease Road.

Woodbridge police said a family reported having an “encounter” with the animal on the lawn, but there was no contact between the family and the mountain lion.

A Woodbridge resident told News 8’s Eva Zymaris that his kids were playing outside when the cat, which he says was a mountain lion, emerged from the woods.

While the reports are not confirmed as “true sightings,” they were reported to CT DEEP.

On Monday, DEEP said that Connecticut does not have a mountain lion population. A young male was hit and killed by a car several years ago, but DEEP has had no confirmed sightings since then.

“We ask people all the time to take pictures. Most people carry cell phones, so they do. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s a bobcat. The other one percent, you can’t make out what it is,” said Karen Lombardi, Chief Regional Animal Control Officer for Woodbridge Animal Control. “A bobcat is much smaller than a medium-size dog, whereas a mountain lion is the size of a large dog. A very large body with a swooping tail.”

DEEP officials said residents often mistake bobcats for mountain lions due to the gait of the bobcat making its tail look longer than it actually is.

While CT doesn’t have a mountain lion population, DEEP officials said it is also extremely rare for them to wander in the state, regardless of the season and they strongly suspect it was a bobcat.

“We have bears now and we didn’t always have bears, so it’s possible that they’ve migrated,” Lombardi said.

If DEEP receives any videos or photos, they will look at them and determine if it is mountain lions.

The WPD included tips to keep in mind should you find a big cat such as a mountain lion:

  • Be mindful of small pets and small children wandering too far away from your sight line.
  • Do Not Approach! Give it space to turn around without feeling threatened to get away from you and your family.
  • Make yourself BIG. Do not bend, squat, or sit down. Arms over your head, with a jacket or sweatshirt.
  • Don’t Run. This can trigger a chase. Stay facing the big cat and try not to turn your back to it.
  • Make noise. Be as loud as you can be paired with being as big as you can.
  • Fight back. If it really comes down to it do what you have to do to deter it from following you. Throw rocks, sticks, etc to scare it off.