Admit it...given a choice, we'd all be rooting for the poor South Dakota cougar that got killed b a Connecticut SUV last week. The cat walked 1500 miles only to get whacked by a truck. Better than choking to death on a liberal, I guess. Here's an interesting column in the NYT by David Baron, a Boulderite who wrote the great book, THE BEAST IN THE GARDEN, about our "domestic" wildlife out here in the West:
Still, living with big cats takes some adjustment. As a former New Englander who now lives among Colorado cougars, I no longer hike alone. When I walk my dog in the early morning, I watch the bushes. I have educated myself on what to do if I encounter a cougar. Yell. Throw rocks. Fight back.
Yet in a decade of living here, I have not seen a cougar in the wild. The cats are masters at hiding and generally leave people alone, which means the biggest adjustment to living with cougars is psychological. It is knowing that a creature far more powerful than you could be crouched behind the trash can, around the next tree, under the porch.
Thanks to the South Dakota cat and its incredible journey, residents of the Eastern United States can now experience the fear and thrill that come with living below the top of the food chain. America has grown a bit less tame.
The Secret Hidden Bunker is a ways away from suburban Boulder, both in distance and wildness. The cats are part of the way of life up here. Like Baron, I've never seen one. My favorite stry is from a couple of years ago when I mentioned to my Sweetie to be extra special careful walking Alf the Wonder Beagle because a big cat was in the neighborhood. There were tracks all over the place, including up and down the driveway. Sweetie was skeptical at best, but around midnight that night the cat screamed. If you've never heard a cougar scream, it is a grab a bone and climb a tree primeval experience. My Sweetie sat straight up in bed and said, Oh my God WHAT IS THAT?" I said that would be the top of the food chain. "The top of the food chain is in there front yard!"
I agree with the "Yell. Throw rocks. Fight back" theory of lion protection, My rocks, however, are relatively small and go really really fast.