Cougar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ever since we moved to Sharps Chapel, TN in 2010 I’ve been asking people what kind of wildlife they’ve seen. There were always rumors of a mountain lion siting, but nothing confirmed — until now.
A few days ago, Jim and I were picking up trash along the side of the road after our run, as we usually do. I always carry a few small plastic bags from the grocery store in my pockets for this. Oftentimes, cars stop to say “thank you” and a few words are exchanged. A car stopped and man by the name of Byron, who lives in Norris Shores, introduced himself.
Sharp Shinned Surveys (Photo credit: corvidaceous)
Jim and I shared that we experienced a recent siting of a sharp-shinned hawk in the area – new to us, and he shared that he had seen a mountain lion!
The details are that this was three years ago. He said that he had 11 acres and he was actually feeding its cubs some milk when he saw the mother. He was very specific about mentioning that it had a long tail.
Whether you call it a cougar, puma, mountain lion, mountain cat, catamount or panther, depending upon the region in which you live, they are all the same animal. I’ve since learned that the cougar is nocturnal and most active around dawn and dusk. According to Wikipedia, the cougar:
“prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but it can also live in open areas. As far as attacks on humans, due to the expanding human population, cougar ranges increasingly overlap with areas inhabited by humans. Attacks on humans are rare, as cougar prey recognition is a learned behavior and they do not generally recognize humans as prey. Attacks on people, livestock, and pets may occur when the cat habituates to humans or is in a condition of severe starvation. Attacks are most frequent during late spring and summer, when juvenile cougars leave their mothers and search for new territory. … As with many predators, a cougar may attack if cornered, if a fleeing human stimulates their instinct to chase, or if a person “plays dead”. Standing still however may cause the cougar to consider a person easy prey. Exaggerating the threat to the animal through intense eye contact, loud but calm shouting, and any other action to appear larger and more menacing, may make the animal retreat. Fighting back with sticks and rocks, or even bare hands, is often effective in persuading an attacking cougar to disengage.”
Watch and liisten to these two different sounds that a mountain lion makes, both taken at zoos where you can see the actual animal making the sound: mountain lion scream and mountain lion growl.
I am not really concerned about running into a cougar on hikes, but I do feel that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so knowing as much about its habits might prove helpful if I should ever encounter one in the wild.
Life is an Adventure.