With the bears now out on their own, our local wildlife rehabbers were able to meet us in Nearby Town for a long lunch.
The conversation wandered around "secret" hiking trails, local water issues, and of course critter tales — specifically mountain lions.
Back when M. and I were hired by the Bureau of Land Management to census Mexican spotted owls, we were stalked by mountain lions twice that we knew of, and probably other times that we did not know of.
But these people hand-raised them. They had two lions that lived out their lives with them, because the cats had been seized from people who owned them illegally and who had had them declawed. There was no way that these cats could be released into the wild.
The lions were quite friendly, almost cuddly. But they were still cats — unpredictable.
One day one of them jumped the woman as she was leaving its pen, knocked her down, and bit into the back of her head. It sounded like a dog chewing a bone, she said.
Her husband got the cat off of her with a couple of swift kicks to the head and a squirt of pepper spray. She was half-scalped. It was a real La Brea Tar Pits moment, he says.
He himself was in a bad car wreck once and was rebuilt with pins and plates, so we figured that their skeletons would astonish archaeologists of the future.
"Look," they might say, "people in the Plastic Age were still preyed on by large carnivores. Yet this woman survived — her people took care of her."
"And the man — clearly he had many enemies, but someone rebuilt his skeleton in a primitive way."