Countryside article on cougar attacks

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Dixielee, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. Dixielee

    Dixielee Well-Known Member

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    Our story of my sister being killed by a cougar was published in the current Countryside. Anyone who lives in "cat territory" should be aware of these preditors. They are more prevelant than you may think. We love our Countryside and I read it cover to cover the first day it arrives. For more information of cougars and their dangers, click here:
    http://users.frii.com/mytymyk/lions/intro.htm
    Click to confirmed attacks in the US for some facinating and scary reading.
    These are not the creatures you see on Disney movies.
     
  2. mousecat33

    mousecat33 Well-Known Member

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    cougar country seems to be anywheres these days. My dad has told my brother and myself not to shoot if we see one. I said, "Sorry, Dad but if I can pop one I will. The last thing I need to see is your New Balance sneaker sticking out from a pile of forest debris. (And they do cathole their kills to let the meat age). Don't mean to offend anyone here, but cougar numbers are on the increase and the next one I see will get some lead/carbon tipped arrow thrown its way. There have been numerous sightings here in NE Texas as of late.


    Dixielee, I am so sorry for your loss. Yes the numbers are increasing.

    Our ancestors did not fight tooth, fang and claw all those years just for us to become salad bar patrons. BTW, I hear that puma is the other other white meat.

    ........................................................




    mc
     

  3. rkintn

    rkintn mean people suck

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    Dixie,
    I read the article and I am so sorry for your loss.

    I live in NWTN and we too have heard the stories from Fish and Wildlife that there are no cougars/panther/mountain lions in our area. Tell that to my husband's nephew. He shot one (black, so assumed was panther) that was stalking him and his sons while they were deer hunting. They tracked it to a huge brush pile and lost the trail. They bulldozed and moved the pile around in the hopes that if it was in there it wasn't coming back out. I have read other stories similar to yours in readers digest lately too. I too will shoot one if I see it because they will kill just for the sport of it and I have teens and small children here at home that I keep a careful and close eye on when they are outside.
     
  4. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Oh Dixielee, that was you? I'm so sorry. I cried reading the article. Be safe. I had no idea there were big cats in your area!
     
  5. pumpkinlady

    pumpkinlady Well-Known Member

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    My heart goes out to you and yours.

    I knew that sitings and attacks are increasing, but didn't realize how many. The site listed opened my eyes that it is more widely spread and numerous than I had thought.
     
  6. cowgirlone

    cowgirlone Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear of your loss Dixie.
     
  7. Jeff Hathaway

    Jeff Hathaway Active Member

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    Dixielee,

    Sorry to hear about your sister... I don't get Countryside, so I haven't seen the article yet, but I did follow your link- some interesting info and statistics. I agree that everyone should be aware of these (and other) animals which might be in the areas they frequent, and understand the risks they take. Also, undoubtably these are not Disney creatures! Neither are deer, rabbits, cats or dogs! Animals should be understood, and respected, as they are, not cartoons (having said this, my wife is a Disney fanatic and I quite enjoy their movies- just don't think they're biologically accurate).

    The key here is to 'understand the risk'. Cougars (pumas/mountain lions/etc.- they have more common names than almost any other animal) are very secretive creatures which rarely attack and kill humans. Yes, numbers are increasing, but it is still a rarity. Part of the increase is likely due to increasing participation in outdoor recreation activities- people hiking, jogging, etc. in wilderness areas. Should be wipe out the cougars so that these people can be marginally safer? There would still be far more dangerous things out there. If you move to a rural area to 'homestead', do you plan to kill of anything that might pose a threat. Sounds like cottagers I know who always want to cut down the trees by the side of the access road so there's no chance they'll fall on a car. I wish they'd just stay in the city.

    Mousekat33 and rkintn, since I am a hunter, most 'earthmuffins' would have little to do with me. However, as a conservationist, I am disturbed that you would shoot an animal on sight and with such little justification or purpose (not to mention disregard for the law). You're certainly not going to eat it. If you want a mounted trophy, that's fine with me, although I don't personally hunt that way. But to shoot it because you're worried about your family's personal safety (assuming it is not actually attacking :) ) is pretty silly. You are far more likely to be killed by deer- better get them all (at least they're tasty). Hope you don't have any dogs; they're first rate killers! House cats aren't as bad, but still more dangerous than cougars when you take their parasites into account- kids have died due to house cat feces in their sandbox. And let's not even consider the dangers teenagers can find for themselves :)

    Personally, I'm happy that they're expanding their range again, and I hope someday they can be found around my little piece of the planet (central Ontario). Sure there have been sightings in Ontario, (and Tennessee!) but it is extremely doubtful that these represent 'populations' of cougars. Most southern Ontario sightings have been proven to be escaped captives. Since becoming connected to the exotic animal industry, I've been amazed at how many people have cougars at home, and how easy they are to get if you want one. Such escapees are also less likely to avoid human contact.

    Oh, and the colour has no bearing on anything. Black ones are no different, except for the colour. Just like albinos have no black, 'melanistic' specimens have all black. A simple genetic mutation in both cases, only melanistics have a good chance for survival and reproduction, whereas albinos don't, except in captivity.

    Jeff Hathaway
     
  8. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    Dixielee, I'm very sorry for the loss of your sister. Although it is clear that these attacks are increasing, the danger that lions pose is actually miniscule compared to something as common as lightning. According to the National Weather Service, there have been 3239 fatalities & 9818 injuries from lightning strikes in the US between 1959 & 1984. This indicates to me that someone engaged in outdoor activities is much more likely to be killed or injured by a weather event than by an animal attack. I'm a hunter & a hiker, mostly in SE Oklahoma, where I own 17 acres in a very rural area. When I'm out rambling around I carry a .45, but it is mostly for protection from 2-legged predators & wild hogs. We have mountain lions & black bear, but I'm much more concerned about druggies & wild hogs.
     
  9. Dixielee

    Dixielee Well-Known Member

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    Thank you everyone for your replies and comforting thoughts. Jeff, I have to respectfully disagree with you on several counts. The first being the idea that cougars raised with people are not likely to want to be in contact with people. From all I have read (and I have become somewhat of an expert on cougars since this), those raised in captivity are less likely to be afraid of humans and more likely to seek their "companionship". Cougars are very private creatures and are difficult to see in the wild. SO, if you do see one, you can almost bet that YOU are the prey and he is not just curious. Since this happened to us, we have been contacted by numerous people who have had close encounters with a big cat. Some were stalked and some were attacked without provacation. Yes, sometimes they do hunt humans for sport and not just because they are sick or hungry. The Game and Fish Departments in general are working to return or relocate cougars, wolves, bears etc to "the wild". Unfortunately they will also come in contact with humans who are trying to live peacefully with nature. Yes, you can be assured that my husband and I no longer go outside unless we are armed. If we see a cougar we will kill it on sight, laws be damned! We have seen bears, deer, wolves, and every other kind of wildlife imaginable here and we all live peacefully. But the cougar started this fight, we did not. If you ever have the misfortune to find a love one mauled to death in your front yard by a wild animal, I don't think you will have such a benevolent attitude toward them.
     
  10. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Dixielee, I am also sorry for your loss.
    And I would do the same thing you now do, in reguards to cougars.

    Last month a cougar took out a guard donkey at the bottom of the hill.
    Right now this area has reached a 100 year high in cougars, and I hope, if they have not done so already.. open up Cougar hunting again.
    There are just too many in the area.
    Things are out of balance in favor of the Pedators.

    What is scary a lot of people have lost touch with the wildlife. They think of the "Cuteness" they see on TV, but it is not like that in the wild.
    It can be a, be killed or kill it situation, and I rather have it be the cougar or bear, than my family.
     
  11. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    So, so sorry. I did read your story, and it gave me chills.
    imo, It is terribly irresponsible for people to own big cats, yet alone "reintroduce" them to the wild where they can do such awful harm.
    mary
     
  12. Jeff Hathaway

    Jeff Hathaway Active Member

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    Hey Mousekat,

    Let me know how it tastes! I'm already familiar with the hides, and know they're gorgeous, so enjoy. Like I said, I'm not opposed to the killing, just the lack of justification that was stated and/or implied. And I wasn't suggesting it was illegal to kill them in Texas, but I'm fairly certain it is in Tennessee, since the eastern cougar has been virtually eliminated for somewhere around a century now.

    Dixielee, as for the captive cougar scenario, you're actually agreeing with me- I said escaped captives 'are less likely to avoid human contact'. As in, they're more readily seen, and therefore people are more likely to think that there are lots of cougars around when in fact there may just be one lone escapee. Also, since people tend to freak out when they do see them, more sightings equals more people freaking out!

    I certainly agree with you about how secretive they are and how hard they are to see in the wild. However, I wouldn't go so far as to suggest seeing one equates with you being the prey. If you see one running across the highway, or loping across a field, I doubt that is the case, and this is how most people tend to see them.

    I don't think animals have much concept of 'sport', but that is just a semantic debate. They can and do kill people, regardless of their motivation, and while I can't blame you or anyone else for an emotional response, I tend to look at things in a very logical (and biological) manner. I doubt the bears, deer, and wolves live in peace. They struggle to survive, and we do more or less the same but with advanced tools that make it easier. Those advanced tools also have created safe havens from the wilderness called cities for people who prefer them. I've lived in both, and I'll take the country with the wild animals anytime! Our area has been relatively devoid of bears for the last century, but they have been making a comeback. Our neighbour saw one run onto our property last fall. I haven't seen one yet, but I'm happy to know they're around and I don't take my rifle out at night with me when I go out to load my wood furnace :) Admittedly, if one was mauling my wife, I'd shoot it. If I found her mauled by the bear, it's possible I'd lose it and hate bears for the rest of my life. But it's not logical, and I doubt it. If she died in a car accident, which is more likely, I probably won't quit driving, either.

    And begere, no doubt, in a kill or be killed situation it will be the animal! But that is not how you formulate general management policies. And I can't think of many examples in North America where things are out of balance in favour of large predators. If anything, it could be said in some cases that things are returning to near the levels they once were. In rare cases where things are superabundant, it is because of the ideal conditions we have created for them- lots of deer to eat due to lots of corn fields, etc.

    Jeff Hathaway
     
  13. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    I'll never forget seeing a cougar run out into the road in front of us while near Athens, TX abot 15 years ago. We bought a place a few years ago in the same area, and see lots of big cat tracks. Most are bobcats, but on at least 3 occasions, they were cougar tracks. Did some research on this, it seems that cougar tracks will usually be about 4" whereas bobcat tracks are usually 3-3.5". The local game warden said it was OK to shoot one, as long as I had a hunting license; just notify them so they know where it is killed. If I see one on our place, and my rifle is handy, I will shoot it; it's just not worth the risk having them around IMO. We love wildlife; it's one reason we bought our place in the woods. And I no longer hunt. But cougars cannot be trusted.
     
  14. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Dixielee, I, too got chills reading your story, and am so sorry for what happened to your sister. I think it's criminal how several agencies in different states say there are "no" cougars in that state, until someone has an incident like yours, or kills one on their property. Then, they just say it must have been someone's pet that was turned loose, etc.

    When our children were about 9 years old, we were camping in the mountains in Washington State. One evening, sitting around the fire, I saw two eyes glowing in the dark about 50 feet from us. Since we were scouting for hubby's deer hunt, I just assumed it was a deer, and told him to look behind himself. The kids were excited, until we saw it slink down. We both realized at the same time it was a cat, not a deer, and hubby got his pistol out and shot into the dirt about six feet in front of it to scare it away. That cougar was not the least bit frightened of us, and just stood there for at least five more minutes before it casually walked into the darkness. Gives me the creeps even now, thinking what could have happened if we hadn't been aware of it, or had wandered out in the dark to visit "mother nature", etc.

    We also "don't" have cougars here, but a man 20 miles from us shot one that was trying to get into his screened porch a couple years ago, where his small dog slept....

    I hope your story will save someone else the heartache you have suffered, and thanks for sharing it with us. Jan in CO
     
  15. Dixielee

    Dixielee Well-Known Member

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    Old bear, Dixielee's husband here.

    Jeff you said
    "Like I said, I'm not opposed to the killing, just the lack of justification that was stated and/or implied."
    I fail to see any "lack of justification" in my wanting to kill a cougar that has already killed a memebr of my family and recently stalked the son of a man about 10 miles from us.


    "If I found her mauled by the bear, it's possible I'd lose it and hate bears for the rest of my life. But it's not logical, and I doubt it."
    BUT you never have found your wife mauled by a bear ,so you really don't know how you would react. Secondly I do not "hate" all cougars. I don't even "Hate" the cougar that Killed Liegh Ann. That cougar was just being a cougar. I will be being a human when I kill it.
    We have tried to live in harmony with the wild creatures. here Even when we had a black bear repeatedly raiding our chicken coop, I did not shoot it, but instead fired into the air to chase it off. We have nursed injured or orphaned animals back to health. Even though they eat our chickens we nursed a wounded hawk back to health and released it . We raised a orphaned squirrel in our house and now it is running wild where it belongs. We re united two young raccoons with their mother. We fed two orphaned coyotes until they could fend for themselves. We feel that we have tried to be good neighbors to the animals where we live. As far as this cougar is concerned, if I get the chance I will kill it. When that time comes I will try not to kill with hate in my heart, but only respect for one of God's creatures and a fellow warrior, But I will kill it none the less. The cougar was just being a cougar and I am just being who I am.
     
  16. Here in Southern California we recently had another cougar attack, the one that made the news with the two cyclists (one killed, one mauled). They appear to be an increasing consideration when we go out into our wild areas near the cities. For years I used to go hiking by myself in the Santa Monica "Mountains" just 2-3 miles south of here. This is NOT the boondocks, it is right smack dab in the middle of America's second largest city (LA). We have several confirmed cougars living in the Santa Monicas, and they believe there may be a breeding male to boot. I refuse to go on my day hikes alone anymore. I am a smallish woman, the kind they just love to snack on. As an environmentalist it hurts me to think of these animals as a threat, but that is the bitter truth. I am not in support of "open season" on them, but I feel very strongly that any cougar in this area that expresses the slightest interest in humans should be immediately destroyed. Perhaps by doing this we can select for a population of cougars that prefers to avoid humans.
     
  17. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

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    Readers Digest had a story about three months ago about a teenager who was killed right by his school in broad day light by one, it sent chills down my spine. And here in california one just dragged a lady off her bike, luckly her friend was able to get her away from it and latter they found a guy who the cougar had killed early in the day. Needless to say I dont walk alone on this wild road by us like I use to.
     
  18. bearkiller

    bearkiller Well-Known Member

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    Yup! If you live in the bush you gotta be aware. I simply never move around without a weapon. I have found pug marks in the garden bigger than my hand. The neighbor up the hill used to have pigs, goats and Dobermans. After a few months all he had left was a stinky old buck goat...the only critter he had that the mountain lion refused to eat. Went over well when he found a well chewed Doberman head.

    That woman you heard screaming in the woods was definitely a cat. Some years back I visited a friend who had a mountain lion taken by C-section after mama took a bullet. He raised it up close and personal for about three years by which time it was cantankerous enough it went to the local zoo for a good home. But when I visited him one time I stood by the car and watched the cat move its mouth, but all I heard was birds chirping. Mighty strange experience, let me tell you.

    On a slightly different note, my bride was sitting on our front porch pulling stick tights out of her pants one afternoon when she "happened" to notice big (I mean BIG) hairy feet on the other side of the truck. She was so scared she could not make a sound for a bit. When she did two things happened. 1.) Mr Bruin walked out from behind the truck about 15 feet away and stood up on his back legs and stared trying to figure out that it was. And 2.) I launched myself down the stairs .44 in hand and out the front door just in time to see nothing.

    I called the neighbor who set dogs on it and they ran that damn old boar 25 miles. He was too smart and wily to tree or back up in the brush...just kept moving on. A year later Mr. Bruin raided the orchard once too often and we bagged him. Crusty, nasty, raggedy, stinking, OLD bruin that would not be shy to eat kids or kids. I was mighty glad to see him gone. And he was all of 400 lbs and about 8 feet long. Way too nasty to eat! Glad I had the backhoe.

    Also be aware that with the cats if you run, that triggers their instinct to attack. Also be like Indians (Eastern Hindu type) and wear a face mask on the back of your head. That profoundly deters an attack because they think you are still looking right at them as you are, in fact, walking away not knowing they are there. That trick has saved a lot of Indians from becoming tiger meat.

    Agreed you have had a most ugly experience and I wish you the best recovering from it. But with your new knowledge use it to gain more experience and attitude to protect yourself and family and critters. As I mentioned, I am always armed, but I walk the woods day and night. The worst encounter so far was the golden opportunity to blast a bruin intent on my orchard. (SMILE!!!!)

    Take heart. Forwarned is forearmed. Protect yourself!

    bearkiller
     
  19. You know, I tried to read this article, but I had to stop when the dogs were shot. This was after the neighbors told them about the "cat scat", etc. I darn sure appreciate cougars and the menace they pose. I've "offed" more than a few of them.

    'Round here, the silly assed environmentalists have tried to repopulate the area with wolves. The same species that my father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. worked hard to eradicate. We go with a version of the "code of the west" regarding the wolves. That is "shoot, shovel and shut-up".

    I think anybody that would go home and find this and kill the dogs "off hand" ought to use those firearms that they are not responsible enough to own to off themselves. They certainly don't have any business living "beyond the sidewalks". Let's clean up the human gene pool!
     
  20. Jeff Hathaway

    Jeff Hathaway Active Member

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    Old Bear, and Dixielee,

    Sorry if I sounded like you had no justification to kill this particular cougar, or even any other. And I did say that if I was in such a situation, I might feel the same way. When I reread my post I think that statement sounded a bit sarcastic but it was not meant to be- I can't know ahead of time how I'd react, I can only make inferences from past experiences which are honestly not even close to such a situation! While I think you're being a bit emotional about it, I think this is quite normal and reasonable, and is certainly a just reason to act in your position. In fact, I'm quite impressed with your reasoning, old bear.

    I was actually referring to the people in Texas and Tennessee who have had no such experience and think that they will be better off shooting any cougar they happen to see because there is a small risk of an attack. The same logic applied in a thousand other situations would be obviously disturbing. Be aware of the risks, take appropriate precautions, yes, but eliminating the local cougar population, no, at least in my opinion. And if we return to the days of everyone shooting at each cougar they see, then that is what we're talking about. Do we want cougars, and other large predators to only live in big national parks? That is unrealistic, and in many cases not possible, as the parks aren't large enough and connected enough to allow their long term survival. Perhaps we don't want them to survive at all, and we should wipe the species off the face of the planet. This isn't my opinion, obviously, but at least it is an honest and logical one. Simply not wanting them in your backyard is no longer an option when our backyards take up so much of the land base.

    It is interesting to me how people's emotions, and their logic, interacts with biologically sound wildlife management. This includes my own as well- not trying to insult anyone here. Oldbear, I have also raised orphaned raccoons (including an albino, but it died), and squirrels. It was very interesting and personally rewarding. From a biological point of view, however, the 3 raccoons that survived and were released are insignificant to the massive population of raccoons already present in Ontario. In fact, given the human modification of the landscape, almost all of southern and central Ontario has extremely high densities of raccoons already. We subsidize unnatural levels by putting out garbage and compost for them to eat, planting corn fields, controlling their predators, etc. In turn, the huge number of raccoons surpress other species. Where this has been particularly noticeable to me is nest predation of turtles. In some areas, 100% of nests are predated, which isn't a problem in the short term but over 80-100 years will be (for the turtles, anyway). And yet, I haven't shot the raccoons I see outside, nor the skunks (similar situation but not as bad), even when I lost a chicken to one last summer. Steve, I'm not sure how trust has anything to do with cougars or any other wildlife. Isn't it just an evaluation of risks?

    Boy, I'm rambling now :) My point was, game and fish departments have specific management goals. Most have embraced 'ecosystem management' where they try to have things function as 'normal' (read without human influence) as possible. Not very practical anymore in New Jersey, but a reasonably good philosophy in Colorado. If they're trying to follow this priniciple, then they will obviously be protective of species which have been massively reduced and are making a comeback, and this includes all large predators except coyotes, which expanded their range after wolves were eliminated from most of theirs. And when they say there 'aren't cougars (substitute wolves, bears, salmon, whatever) around here', and one turns up, they probably weren't lying. Obviously they can't know where every single individual animal is or isn't. They're talking about POPULATIONS. Whether they're a reasonably normal part of the local wildlife community. Escapees (which does happen), individuals which disperse hundreds of kilometres (I'm Canadian, eh :) )from their previous range (which also does happen with large predators) and similar situations don't count as a population.

    Unregistered (the first one), I admire your position on the local cougars. LA is a classic example of expanding human influence encroaching upon what also happens to be wildlife habitat. However, I'm no expert on LA, having only been there once, but I believe that the nature of development into that area is part of the problem. Sprawling estate subdivisions (correct me if I'm wrong) support lots of prey for cougars, and provide great hiding spots that cougars will make use of, eating the extra prey as much as possible and their numbers will increase as a result. I doubt you'd see many cougars in downtown LA :) .

    I'll leave the wolf debates for another time!

    Jeff Hathaway