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‘Cougar’ incident results in charges

By Tracey Curry
Daily Messenger
Arcadia, N.Y. —

The man who said he videotaped what appeared to be a cougar walking through a yard in Arcadia was charged Tuesday after the video proved to be bogus.

Trenton Barry, 27, of 5271 Bailey Road, was charged with third-degree falsely reporting an incident by state Department of Environmental Conservation officers after they discovered the video — of a 14-inch feline — was actually taken in 2007 by a Wolcott resident.

Last month, Barry told DEC officials and the media that he was watering the garden at his parents’ Filkins Road home when he saw a cat-like creature that looked to be about the size of a German shepherd dog.

“When I saw the animal the first time, my heart was pounding and I was really scared,” he said in an interview after the alleged sighting.

Later that day, he said, the animal returned and he captured images of it on his cell phone’s video recorder. However, DEC officials said after questioning him — and the 2007 video surfaced — Barry recanted his story.

“An investigation (in 2007) by the DEC showed that the animal in the video was only 14 inches in height and definitely not a cougar,” said Linda Vera, spokesperson for DEC’s Region 8.

Lt. David Baker and Officer Josh Crain of the DEC’s enforcement division further interviewed Barry. While he insisted he had seen something earlier in the day that he couldn’t identify, said the DEC, Barry admitted he found the supposed cougar video on the Internet and had sent it to his friends, having no idea the message would become widespread.

Barry did not return calls for comment.

He is scheduled to appear Wednesday, Aug. 26 in Arcadia Town Court. If convicted of the charge, a misdemeanor, he could face fines of up to $1,000 and a year in jail.

The eastern cougar, or mountain lion, is listed as endangered in New York and has been absent since the 1880s, DEC officials said. There is no hard evidence, they added, to prove the existence of cougars living and producing in the wild in New York.

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