PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It happens every once in a while around here — someone swears they’ve seen a cougar (the animal, that is). Well, some federal research confirms what most local scientists have said for years: you probably didn’t see one.

Probably, because there’s some evidence that sightings in northern Delaware starting about 15 years ago might be real. Researcher Mike McCullough with the US Fish and Wildlife Service believes that cat might have been dumped there illegally by it’s owner at the time.

“But there is no evidence that those animals reproduced,” he said. “There’s no confirmed evidence of them existing today.”

In fact, the Eastern Cougar — the last known breed to inhabit these parts — hasn’t been seen in 70 years. And after four years of research, is now declared extinct. Most people who think they’ve seen a cougar probably saw a black bear, a large dog or a house cat.

Still, McCullough suggests if you think you’ve seen a cougar, report it anyway. Because you never know.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio

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