Potential mountain lions in Fairfield no longer have police protection.
Police Chief Gary MacNamara said Tuesday that the state Department of Environmental Protection told area police departments that the animals, if they can't be contained, should be "euthanized."
"On the recommendation of the DEP, if we can't contain the animal, the animal by its mere presence will have to be euthanized," MacNamara said. "They're not common in the area, they're not native to the area, and if they're seen and can't be contained, they do pose a threat and should be euthanized."
"That was the message conveyed by the DEP to all our departments," MacNamara added, referring to a teleconference with the DEP and area first selectmen and law enforcement officers Monday afternoon.
The DEP recommendation is a reversal of the Fairfield Police Department's position last week in which a police spokesman said officers don't kill healthy wildlife and that potential mountain lions in town would only be killed if they posed an imminent threat or harm to a citizen.
Police on Tuesday said the last reported sighting of a potential mountain lion was still the Friday morning sighting by Town Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller, who said he is convinced he saw a mountain lion by Verna Hill Road and Mine Hill Road in Greenfield Hill about 8 a.m. An earlier sighting was reported June 14 by an Easton motorist, who said she saw a mountain lion at the corner of Redding Road and Old Academy Road, also in Greenfield Hill, in the late afternoon.
MacNamara said the DEP is investigating whether a confirmed mountain lion killed in Milford after it was struck by an SUV about 10 days ago had any signs it had been someone's pet. "Basically, the DEP is following up on the analysis of the dead mountain lion to try to determine if there are any signs it was at one point in captivity and are also trying to determine if that mountain lion was the mountain lion seen earlier in Greenwich," he said.
"All of the sightings we've seen [in Fairfield] are just that - sightings. There have been several credible sightings, however no confirmation," MacNamara said.
The DEP's position on Friday was that mountain lions are extinct in Connecticut and that the confirmed mountain lion killed in Milford had been someone's pet and had either escaped or been released.
Residents who see a potential mountain lion should call the Police Department's non-emergency number at 203-254-4800 so officers can be dispatched to the area and the DEP can be notified, MacNamara said. He said residents also should take precautions that were outlined by police after the sighting by Hiller.
MacNamara said a resident who sees a mountain lion and can safely photograph the animal should do so to provide evidence to law enforcement and the DEP about what the animal is.