Sunday, November 19, 2006

A friendly neighbors experience and advice about mountain lions

Dear Pumites All:

Over here at Twin Sisters we have regular mountain lion presence as well. Tracks mainly, but also, scat and occaisional sightings and even one encounter.

Roz came home around midnight a few years ago, to find that a mountain lion had treed a racoon or something right in our parking lot. It was roaring, and stayed at the base of the tree forat least a half an hour. A thrilling basso profundo roar, a bit like the Metro Goldwin lion. I was listening out the upstairs window. Roz stayed put in her car. Finally, a long time after the lion stopped roaring, Roz made a dash for the house.

Another time I was gazing idly out the bedroom window at the meadow in the moonlight, 10 pm or so, when suddenly one, then two more deer came tearing across the meadow, east to west, just above the garden, followed immediately by the long, low to the ground outline of a mountain lion, long tail out behind. The whole group was moving at top top speed, the lion maybe thirty yards behind the three deer. Just past the garden the deer cut an impossibly abrupt left turn, downhill, which the lion matched as best he could, (I think he lost some ground to them), then the whole show disappered down below our barn, and that was the last I saw of them. The whole thing was in complete silence. I found a few tracks in the morning, to confirm I hadn't been dreaming, but I am a very lazy tracker, easily bored, so I didn't try to map it all out.

Anyway, we see tracks, every year a handful or so of times up on Twin Sisters. Most recently, ten days ago in one of the fresh snows.

The Antidote to Lions. Roz and I gradually became a little uncomfortable about this definite presence of lions, particularly since we often hike alone, and at dusk. So we have taken to sometimes carrying a super potent can of pepper spray with us. My limited research on this subject leads me to believe that this pepper spray is the best thing you can do for yourself in case of a real life lion encounter. I think this is the consensus among wildlife biologists as well.

The spray was designed as an antidote to grizzly bears, and is used most frequently in Alaska, where almost everyone carries it in the back country. You can buy it at McGuckins for about $40 a can.

VDAP Pepper Power- Bear Deterrent.

Of course it would be useless if you were surprised in an ambush, and it could be counter productive if there was significant wind moving agaInst you. But in a lot of mt lion encounters, wind isn't a problem, and there's plenty of time to get organized to defend yourself. In such cases the spray could make a real difference.

I find it sort of comforting to have along in a back pocket, whenever I think to bring it. And as for muggers, gangs, or maurauding packs of wild dogs or wolves, you're covered.

Well, that's the news from Twin Sisters, John & Roz McClellan