Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Great Cougar Cover Up and Animal Rights

This is not Wisteria Lane. It's Chicago, Illinois.

I hesitated to ride my bike today. They say that cougars are only a danger to us at dawn and at dusk, and I'm finishing today kind of late, surely dusk, so who wants to be some big cat's dinner?

But I rode anyway.

Last night the local news broke a big story, one important to people like me: The Great Cougar Cover Up. Apparently our lone Chicago cougar didn't have to run 950 miles to get Chi-Town from South Dakota. He and his friends generally roam around southeastern Michigan, not all that far away at all.

There have been over 1500 cougar sightings in Michigan in recent years, and they get little press, if any. Every cougar should have his 15 minutes of fame, I feel.

But beyond that, when faced with the evidence- a video and photos of two large cougars stomping around a Michigan farm, government officials told the farmer that she had footage of house cats.

A photography expert superimposed two real house cats into the picture alongside an image of a six foot tall male human. If you look closely, the house cats are barely visible, the human is clearly tall, and the cougars, well, they're obviously cougars.

Experts in the Department of Natural Resources say that the reason there's no publicity on this is that the government really doesn't want the public to know. If the cats are on a list of extinct species, shooting them would be a federal crime. And the animal rights activists, too, will become very angry.

Which brings us to, Now What? If they're hungry and they're visiting Chicago . . .

In Israel, when you drive into into certain areas, a security guard will stop you and ask, Yesh neshek? Are you packing? FD, in his beard and shirt sleeve shirts looks like he could be a "settler." So it's a logical question. But no, neither of us ever considered getting a gun.

I'd consider it now.

But of course, getting a gun is a ridiculous idea. I would sooner get pepper spray. I would sooner do nothing at all.

This isn't really a therapy issue, is it? It's really not, unless we go with the question, Are they angry, cougars, or just hungry? But that's irrelevant, the experts have spoken, they're hungry. So the question is why bring it up, why harp on this business about the cougars?

I do it because I'm a person, and cougars eat people. They prefer a good piece of coyote, but who's to say where their tastes are going to go? Twenty years ago not very many people ate sushi.

So I'm really asking the animal rights activists out there, What should someone like me do, supposing I run into a cougar on the bike path? I'm a human and humans are mammals and mammals are cougar prey. And did I mention that I have grandchildren in California and that there are cougars there, too? They're everywhere!

Let me know. Should we all be packing pepper spray, or guns that shoot blanks, or perhaps yesterday's hamburgers? What should we do? Would that really work, hamburgers? How old can they be?



April said...

i saw these Don'ts:
Don't hike, bike, or jog ALONE in lion territory; Don't plan outdoor activities during the hours from dusk to dawn; Avoid walking near dense growth, rock outcroppings, or under ledges; Don't act afraid of a lion, if you encounter one;
Don't try to sooth it verbally, as this may backfire; Don't bend over, crouch, or kneel; Never turn your back on a lion; Never, Never run from a lion.
Use Independent Thinking: Don't rely on mere theories about what will cause lions to attack and eat you

I would think that if you need to scare of a cougar that's stalking you, you might have a chance. Make yourself big, make a lot of noise to try to scare it away, and don't turn and run.
However, if one is perched up high and jumps on you: good-bye, nice knowin' ya! One quick bite to the neck and you're a cougar's meal.

Also, from the site I linked to:
Use anything available as a weapon if the lion displays aggression
but *generally not if you must turn your back, crouch, kneel, or bend over to get one. Carry mace or pepper spray where you can easily reach it. Use fists, sticks, rocks, tools, a pocket knife, a bicycle, whatever you can hit with, throw, and/or use as a shield. Target an eye with your thumbs, fingers, or a weapon.

therapydoc said...

Thanks again, April. So you're saying the hamburger idea won't cut it, right?

I'm getting the pepper spray.

therapydoc said...

Yet another country heard from, same advice, with definite warnings not to feed the cougars:


I will start by saying that I am no expert on mountain lions and have never personally encountered one (though, I know a few people that have.) I did, however, live in South Dakota for many years and have always known an encounter with a mountain lion was possible.

Here a a few tips that may help should you cross ones path.

* Chances are that you will startle the lion as much as it startles you.
* DON'T RUN (unless you want to be chased, running is a BAD idea.)
* Make lots of noise, talk loud, yell a bit.
* Make yourself look bigger. Wave your arms and jump around. If you happen to be wearing a jacket, open it up.
* Throw sticks, kick rocks, just don't bend down to get them.
* If you have a small child with you pick it up without turning your back or crouching down.
* Walk away slowly, remember don't turn your back on them, ever.
* Do not feed the animal.
* If you are attacked do everything you can to protect your head and neck (while putting up the fight of your life.)

Oh, and of course, contact the appropriate authorities once you get to safety. I'm not really sure what to tell you about the pepper spray, but I will tell you that most hiker's in South Dakota do carry guns with them these days.

Hope this helps a little.

You can read more at the furry tripod.


the Bag Lady said...

Carry something with which to defend yourself - preferably a stout stick. We have cougars around here, too, and I am always worried about our calves at this time of year. (And about walking alone out to check on them at dusk and dawn...)

therapydoc said...

Be careful Bag Lady!

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