​Cougar Fever

​​​​Eastern Cougar fever

You never know what chain reaction will bring a laugh.

I asked a friend where he got his firewood last week. He mentioned a guy close by to me but I didn’t know. I asked my brother and he knew him. My brother said he told him, 10-15 years ago, that he was crossing the river bridge by the entrance to my lane. He saw a guy looking over the bridge. Guy 2 said there was a dead dog in the water. Guy 1 looked and said, “That is not a dog that is a cougar with a tail like that.” He called DNR and heard nothing back but the cougar was gone, the next day, or so.

I still can’t get over how classic a cougar story this is. I have spent a lifetime in the woods over there obsessed about cougars and one turns up in the most unlikely, but visible, places l can think of. When I was 10, or so, a book on cougars called, “The Eastern Panther” by Wright, had me stoked. In my thirties, I created a wildlife club focused on big game. At outdoor shows, etc. I tried documenting cougar reports with report forms until the bullshitters made it tiresome. Everyone has a cougar story, but me, even my aunt that never goes in the woods has seen one. You would think by now a road kill would have happened, like they do in Florida all the time, or some other evidence would turn up but no. Sasquatch is the undisputed king of hide and seek but our cougars here are a close second.

Another favorite was 25, or so, years ago. I was in a country store talking to the owner about a local placename, a few miles away. He casually mentioned it was a cougar crossing. Not just where one was seen but a nondescript place where the rarest possible animal habitually crosses. I loved it. I still don’t know if it was bull or he was a believer but I think about it every time l go through there.

Even the pros have thrown their hands up. I have pretty much, too. The problem is while they are implausible here they are not impossible because they are on the move.

One made it all the way from the Dakota Black Hills to CT where it was killed by traffic. DNA proved its origin and others found far from the Black Hills.

This was a good report on the spread of Puma concolor.

I also just saw this on MI ones.

The Florida ones are famous holdouts as are the LA ones.

Cougar pets are common and releases are possibly enough to start the legends. That and the longing for a lost world where there is still mystery in the wild contribute. Britain is densely populated but is still loaded with mystery big cat sightings. Scott Weidensaul wrote a book on such things. He visited the locations, looked around, and was incredulous that people believed the stories. To his outside eye, it was obvious the Brits were engaging a fantasy for a lost world. There is much of that here, too, but, at least, there is habitat for Puma concolor here. They may make it back here, yet.

7 thoughts on “​Cougar Fever”

  1. I have seen or heard (close-up) a handful. Six? The interesting thing is that unlike black bears, if they run away, they don’t run far. Just twenty or thirty yards; then they sit down to watch you and see what you might do next.

    Once a hunting guide I knew fired a couple of .44 Mag. rounds over the heads of two lions who were watching us from across a gully. (It was nighttime–we saw them with a red spotlight.) They just blinked.

    But my wife swears she saw one along I-76 near Sterling in eastern Colorado in 1970. She was from the Hudson Valley and did not know what she was seeing until she talked about it. But it’s quite plausible–the location was close to the South Platte River riparian corridor, a perfect “highway” from the Rockies into Nebraska, following that major drainage.

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  2. I’m 74, and still waiting for my first sighting. When (if) it happens, it will be our secret. Just the two of us.

    *****
    I am a carnivore. A lifelong predator. A hunter. But I do not make common cause with those who kill for the hell of it, or because an animal kills to eat. Like I do.

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