Well, shit, someone got killed by a cougar in Washington, first time in 94 years, and we’ll probably get a lot of dead cougars out of it. The perp got offed for sure. He was still standing over the mountain biker admiring him when he was apprehended. I’d feel better about killing lions if we had more big predators plus enough room to stash them in, but we don’t. Most of us are in cities and the rest are kind of strung out into the countryside trying to get space around us, and that covers a lot of map. And I do feel bad for the biker and I know I’m supposed to be more loyal to my kind, but Jeebus, there are so many of us, and most of us aren’t really as cool as a cougar. Not saying I wouldn’t try to bash one over the head if it came after me or after my friends and family, most of them, but it’s all just a shame, isn’t it?
So the paper had a thing about what you’re supposed to do when you run into a cougar. The first is to pick up small children immediately, but what if you don’t have one? Or if, like me, you can’t throw it very far? Dave has already explained to me that his plan is to hold me in front of him to look even bigger than he is. My own plan was to climb him or get in back of him, so if we both try to carry out our plans at the same time, it’s bound to look chaotic, which might trigger the cougar’s prey response. We would look like one big sweaty moth at a porch light. (My backup plan involves explosive diarrhea.)
But what you’re supposed to do is look large, face the cougar, speak firmly, and slowly back away. Remember: speak firmly. Bad Cat! No! Be assertive. Cougars are going to go after the up-talkers or people with vocal fry first, guaranteed. So right there, you can’t say they’re all bad.
One way you can try to look big is to stand on a rock and open out your jacket. And then if you’re attacked anyway despite having a voluminous jacket, you’re supposed to fight back with everything you’ve got. What? Are we supposed to knee ’em in the nuts? You ever try to find nuts on a cat?
The trouble with all this is that every one of these is the exact last thing you want to do. When I’m confronted with a cougar, I do not want to stand on a rock and risk tipping over. And I definitely do not want to open my jacket. Here, Kitty! Here is my thin, pale throat, with its rapidly pulsing delectable jugulars! And down here is my disembowelment zone! So in order to do all this, we need to have nerves of steel. I have already had one shot at this scenario, and I have determined that I have nerves of gelatin.
I might have told you the Rasty Old Bull story before, but I can’t remember doing it, so you probably don’t remember it either.
That last sentence was fallacious. Not only might you remember something I’ve forgotten, but it’s damn likely. I don’t even know why I opened the fridge half the time.
So you get the Rasty Old Bull story anyway. My sister and I went traipsing some distance across a rough pasture in Utah, after first climbing through the barbed-wire fence, to see a particularly nice petroglyph she knew about. We went, we admired it, and when we turned around, we were greeted by the unprecedented and jolly sight of our entire family standing on the car waving and hopping and pointing to the right and making no sound at all. We waved back. Some moments later, looked to the right. And here comes this rasty old bull. Keeping a slow but deliberate pace, balls swinging like nunchucks, on a trajectory that would put him right in our path on the way back to the car. “Walk steadily but do not run,” Bobbie advised, and that sounded right, so we jammed it into second gear and headed for the car. At first. Then our strides lengthened. Theoretically we were still in a walking gait, but we looked like the Keep On Truckin guy. Finally our feet left the ground altogether. We gazelled straight across several arroyos and went completely Edwin Moses on the barbed-wire fence, clearing the ditch and into the car in one fluid motion. That was the most athletic thing I have ever done or will ever do in my life, and I got no chops left for a cougar.
Glad that the cougars will go after the "up-talkers" first. So many times, I have heard female scientists on NPR explaining something that's way over my head. And they've been up-talkers. It makes them sound as if they are unsure of themselves, plus maybe they are ten-years-old. There is an entire generation of women in need of a speech therapist to keep them from sounding idiotic.
Or a generation of us old folks to lose our hearing so no one will be bothered by it.
I understand it is also a common way for young men, particularly fathers, to speak so as to seem less threatening.
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"There is an entire generation of women in need of a speech therapist to keep them from sounding idiotic."
Yes, yes, YES! I know one with a PhD in Psychology, a practicing psychotherapist, and to make matters worse she looks about sixteen.
But maybe Unmitigated is right, and once we old farts all drop into the ground there will be nobody left to be annoyed anymore.
I wonder if "here kitty kitty" would confuse the cougar? If that didn't work I would have to pull my knife and fight. I'm too old to run and probably too old to fight, too, but kind of gristly so I might have the last laugh on the cougar after all. If you're with a companion it is best to trip the companion as you exit the area. I've heard that method also works with grizzlies. .
Jono, I am thinking that you probably do have cougars somewhere near your place. You may want to keep practicing your "here, kitty, kitty, kitty" call. And keep working on the gristle. Just in case.
I'm cowering behind Jono.
Here, kitty might work! Mine never come when I call them.
Of course, you can sing opera really loud, as this person did: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/20/hiker-mountain-lion-opera_n_5695886.html
I wonder if it works with "I'm a little teapot" in a quavering falsetto? Because I think that's all I got.
I had to google Edwin Moses. He recovered from traumatic brain injury — twice. That's pretty amazing.
I didn't know that! He was a hell of a hurdler. A joy to watch. Wasn't sure if he was a household name.
Ooh — ooh — I know! One of our house felines just HATES it when I play the harmonica. Maybe that would work? An easy addition to your backpack, to boot!
You know what would really work? And I mean it. A bumbershoot umbrella that opens at a pushbutton. I saw a training video (for postal workers encountering dogs) in which the most vicious dogs were completely flummoxed by the suddenly open umbrella. Now have them made lightweight to double as a hiking stick and you've got 'er made.
There’s your Zillion Dollar Patent idea for the week. If you don’t want it, can I borrow it? I’d attach the harmonica to the bumbershoot walking stick, slap my name on it, and open franchises, moving gradually from west to east as those Voracious Cougars widen their range.
Go for it, sugar.
I'm still guiltily yet vocally chuckling over the up-talker and vocal fry bits . . . vocal fry does my head in.
When you consider the damage an ordinary house cat can do, it's not surprising that big cats can be deadly. If you didn't die from the mauling, you'd be septic in twenty-four hours from the cat spit.
Unless you develop anti-bodies. Jazz attacks me so often my body doesn't recognise his spit as foreign. The bites and scratches never beocme infected. On the rare occasions he attacks himself infection rules.
Umm…this is a cherished pet?
Not all cats are like yours, Murr, but we love 'em anyhow 🙂 (I believe EC's Jazz came from a similar situation as our most recent cat, i.e. a rescue/stray with unknown trauma in his/her history.)
I can see loving them–from some distance! Still haven't owned a cat that drew a claw on me.
You need to speak sternly and address them as "Potato Brewster" when they're naughty.
Never was much of a sprinter, even in my younger days.
I.m wondering if a tranq. dart would work…if you're not much cop at darts I guess aiming for double top and landing somewhere south might work…
Or I could just stick to my time-honoured philosophy: if I get chomped by a big animal while I'm wandering about on its home turf, please don't let the politicians kill said animal/fish. That's served me well enough for 70+ years
I've always aimed for double top and landed somewhere south, myself. It's not clear that's what I'm doing, but that's what I'm doing. And I'm with you–but I think they go ahead and kill them on your (late) behalf.
I fear, the over hundred year solution to the problem has guns in the equation, at least in the family who've lived in the place since 1848. Not that it's correct, or right, but it's one of the reasons for the low cougar/people demise rate.
A aside: in partial, hopefully forgiving or understanding of the practice of shooting a mountain lion if they saw them within 100 feet was that if you ever saw one, it'd seen you for some time, and you were seeing it because it was stalking you.
Just a view from someone who's heard and seen this issue over the decades.
Not saying I wouldn't try to do the same. What I think is a shame is how little territory (particularly contiguous) we have for ANYTHING now.
yeah,well Ehrlich, others have shown what and how. Not sure I want to be around for mankind's solution.
We here in Montana get to experience the least, in terms of progression of effect. You, in my home state are luckier than others, but it's coming.
The idea of climate change, adaptations for it are but one small part of the next 200 years. We won't see it, but the effects of your frogs crossing the road, the decreasing habitat for mountain lions, grizzly and wolf will all play a part. As will drought. As will vastly increased commercial use of public land that will increase under the GOP.
I'm starting to have some comfort that our ancestors were here thousands of years ago. We're a tiny part of our planets history.
I'm not at all certain we'll be here in a hundred years. I'm pretty certain it's going to take a cascade of disasters to move the needle on any of this even though we know what to do.
If I were a betting man, I wouldn't put a dime on the survival of (at least) civilization as we now enjoy it, and perhaps the species itself. And I have to say that the evidence indicates that the place would be better off without us.
I agree with you. We're taking so very much down with us, though.
You sure you weren't in my 'Homo Ludens' class in 71'?
I was a freshman in college then!
Didn't I read somewhere that they think something is/was physically wrong with the cougar that caused it to attack a human?
It was a low-weight male, but not necessarily emaciated–possibly just a "small cougar." They're doing tests on it to see if they can find something wrong with it (other than it being dead).
Reading an article today that you may have seen on Facebook about how the removal Felis concolor (Cougar, Puma, Panther, Mountain Lion, etc.), wolves and similar apex predators has been the proximal cause of the spread of coyotes from the western plains and deserts to every state and down into Central America as far as Guatemala.
Me, I'm totally on the cat's side.
Y'all have different pumas down there, right? Isn't a Florida panther something a little different? And of course you have good old Florida Man to eat.
I was also so shocked by the cougar attack and can't imagine what went through the bike rider's mind. However, I also read that the cat was emancipated and I guess to a starving cat a little bit of screaming and arm flapping would not be enough to blow off supper. I enjoyed seeing the Keep on Trucking guy. Havent seen him in so long. It put a smile on my face.
They're still testing the cat to see if there was something screwy about him.
I'm far more inclined to never put myself anywhere near a cougar that isn't in a safe zoo enclosure, with the super sturdy fence between him and me.
I think the solution, when coming face to face with a hungry cougar, is to try to lead it into a bull's enclosure.