[Tweeters] Cougar Love
loes at uw.edu
Thu Feb 7 12:56:28 PST 2013
Gary, I appreciated your boots-on-the-ground perspective on finding cougars in the wild. For those who'd like to read more about cougars, there is a wonderful new book out on them:
Phantoms of the Prairie: The Return of Cougars to the Midwest, by John W. Laundré (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012).
On Feb 6, 2013, at 10:30 PM, Gary wrote:
> I was in Cougar country for about 10 of my 30+ years with the National Park Service, plus some additional time with Arizona State Museum. During that time I saw a Cougar twice - both times in Glacier NP. I was on road patrol at night up to the peak of the Going to the Sun Highway and back. We had a Cougar who had learned the trick of flipping over porcupines, then "peeling" and eating them. I saw him two nights in a row. He ran ahead both times, then up a bank and turned to see me. The second time he bared his teeth, and I'm sure he hissed. So my total viewing time was about 1 minute long. What I did learn however is that much of the time I was in the field, Cougars were seeing me. In Cougar country, they'e there, and in the overwhelming majority of instances, they are not interested in giving you a view. When they do let you see them, its time for you to retreat - slowly. Running can trigger a chase instinct and they can catch up to you. Mature cats know you're the most dangerous mammal in the woods, but immatures chased out their area by the mother when she goes into season (after about 2 years of giving birth) sometimes aren't sure what you are. They do know you're slow and possibly worth going for. Their lives are pretty rough. No home, no mother, and subject to being killed if an adult male Cougar finds
> them, so they're frequently on the verge of starvation until they learn the ropes. If they get you, there will be a hue and cry and they will almost certainly be hunted down and killed. If the worst happens and you are attacked, keep facing it and fight back-- yell, throw rocks or anything else you have. If you have a hiking stick, swing it like a bat and go for the nose. They usually will back down. So my advice, when you're out in the wilds is to try not to see a Cougar. Make noise, and don't go alone. Avoid hiking alone especially at dawn and dusk when Cougars are the most active.
> That way you will be safe and so will they. They are beautiful relics of a wild past, so let them be.
> Gary Cummins
> Port Townsend
> casacummins at gmail.com
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