'I’m a bit of a prankster': Wyo. PD chief pulls prank on trail cam set up to catch mountain lion
“I took my Halloween mask and thought this should be fun,” Chief Mike Thompson said
By Brooke Baitinger
The Charlotte Observer
EVANSVILLE, Wyo. — Authorities in a small town in Wyoming thought they might have a mountain lion on their hands, so they set up trail cameras hoping to spot it.
Two or three weeks later, the Evansville Police Department posted photos from the trail camera on Facebook. There was no sign of a mountain lion among the photos of turkeys, raccoons, skunks, housecats, deer … and an unrecognizable, monstrous humanoid.
“Here are some photos of what is running in the wilds of Evansville along the river,” officials said in the May 8 post. “If you know anyone that is scared of the dark please pass this along to them so they can see there is nothing to be afraid of.”
Some in the comments said that the photos had, in fact, scared them. Some suspected a real creep was roaming around town.
Others seemed to know it was a prank right away. It might have been the “fresh threads” the creature wore from well-known clothing brands.
“Even creatures of the night love wearing polo gear,” someone pointed out.
“Brilliant practical joke,” someone else said.
“That’s the entire cast of Bambi right there…and a couple of new characters too,” someone joked.
A couple people were onto the officers themselves.
“I’m wondering if it wasn’t someone from the PD that knew it was there… but one could only hope,” someone said.
“Probably an officer having some fun!” someone else offered.
Department officials said “all officers who were working that night were accounted for To our surprise when we pulled the camera this morning.”
“It’s a mystery for sure…” the original commenter replied.
“This is the police chief!” someone correctly guessed.
Chief Mike Thompson confirmed it was him in a phone interview with McClatchy News.
He figured he’d get a head start on the “friendly competition” the department has with the nearby town of Barnum every Halloween, when the department organizes a haunted hay maze at the town fire station.
“I took my Halloween mask and thought this should be fun,” he said. “I’m a bit of a prankster.”
The police department put up the cameras when the public works department found deer and other animal carcasses in a part of town where it wouldn’t normally find them. They looked distinctly like mountain lion kills, he said.
Then officers spotted a print in the mud that looked like a mountain lion paw, so they set up the camera there to “make sure we don’t have a big apex predator running around” in an area where people sometimes hang around or walk their dogs, he said.
A mountain lion had recently been spotted in the nearby town of Casper. The town lost track of it, and officials suspect it went back up to Casper Mountain, he said.
Evansville will celebrate its 100-year anniversary at the end of the month, so officials wanted to make sure there’s “no crazy big kitties running around by then,” Thompson said.