October 10, 2007

When Would It Be Right to Shoot a Cougar?

A man in Boulder County shoots a mountain lion that has attacked his dog. Unfortunately for his legal position, dogs are not described by law as "livestock" (although I often refer to ours that way).

The Sinapu crowd predictably wants him hanged.

The dog-owner, Jeremy Kocar, told the Daily Camera newspaper, "I'm from Wisconsin — and we take care of things there," a remark that produced a certain amount of chest-puffing among Coloradans.

Read the comments if you have time and mental equanimity. Sample from "Teledude": "When you move to the mountains, you take the risk that you or your pets are food for something else." (Login required: Bug Me Not is your friend.)

David Baron detailed the change in attitude in his excellent 2003 book The Beast in the Garden. People in that area had become more accepting of the cougar population around them, despite the occasional deaths of pets and at least one human, a high-school cross-country runner.

But where are the limits? If I caught a mountain lion attacking Jack or Shelby -- and they do come around the house -- I too would shoot. To avoid that possibility, we have a rule -- enforced for cabin guests too -- that dogs do not go out after dark without a human, even big dogs.

I wonder if some of the "never never never" people could stand by idly either.


Steve Bodio said...

I like lions, but there are more lions in New Mexico's mountains than tazis, and I always carry my Kimber. "S, S, & SU".

Anonymous said...

What bugged me was not so much that he shot the cougar, but because the guy not only knew the cat was in the area, not only kept his dog outside at night in a run with no top, but the dog was attacked once before and just barely survived... and he put it right back out there. Many people in Boulder suspect he was not defending his dog, but instead using it as live bait.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Of course, "many people in Boulder" could be drinking too much espresso down at Trident and indulging in conspiracy theories too.

After all, the man is not "one of us." There is probably no spandex in his wardrobe, and he may not even own a mountain bike.

Anonymous said...

Alright, let me rephrase. My original source in Boulder is a devoted dog lover who is also involved in local efforts to keep cougars from becoming human-habituated to the point where they start preferring carelessly kept dogs to their normal prey. I trust said source because she has never seemed to harbor any illusions about killing cougars sometimes being necessary- she just wants people not to take active parts in creating problem cats in the first place. I have never really gotten the spandex-and-mountain-bike vibe off her.

Regardless of whether the man was deliberately using his terrified dog as bait or not, the fact remains that he DID continue putting the dog back out into what amounted to a killing pen for the cat, after it was attacked the first time, and after a neighbor dog was killed the same night.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Ah, progress. We have moved from "many people in Boulder" to one [anonymous] person, a "devoted dog lover."

I am a devoted dog lover too. So, perhaps, is Mr. Krocar.

But I see that lots of (presumably) Boulderites hiding behind their screen names want to beat up on him for being from outside the People's Republic of Boulder.

The information about other attacks on dogs comes from the comments, not the news article, and I discount anonymous comments by about 50 percent.

Even if it if true, would the Krocars in their isolated trailer have known? I cannot say. Is the same lion responsible? I cannot say.

Anonymous said...

All right, let me start over here. First, I apologize for making my introduction in such a fashion. It was rude of me and I am sorry; I wound up here today because I was updating my blogroll and remembered that I liked coming here and lurking.

Second, I'm not going off the comments to the article you linked, I commented because I know the woman in question from elsewhere- because living with predators is a subject of longtime interest. I trust the source, but rumor is for the information that the Kocars can have little legitimate claim not to know the cougar was in the area and attacking animals left outside at night- especially since they were living there in the first place because they were working on a wildlife mitigation project even though they claim that they "heard little" of cougars in being in the area.

You could be right and I could be being unfair to the man- but media inaccuracy works both ways. I said what I did partly on "rumor", but partly on what I read between the lines in the news stories- and it sounded like someone acting more out of arrogance than for concern for his dogs. People who won't stop keeping pets in ways that set up feeding stations for predators are as responsible for senseless dog and predator killings as people who won't accept that living near predators means sometimes having to kill them, and I have no more love for them than for the people who expect living near wild things to be like Disney. And, for the record, if I saw a cougar going after one of my dogs- I would shoot it on the spot. I keep mine in at night, like you, to reduce the chance that I might have to.

And if I am wrong about Mr. Kocar- and I could be- then I'm sorry about that, too.

Fair enough?

Anonymous said...

....Annnnd my own HTML error vomits on my dignity once more.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Yes, rumor and "reading between the lines" can take us places that we did not intend to go.

Maybe, to loop back to the first commenter, Krocar's mistake was to involve the authorities in the first place. Was he expectin praise and a pat on the back? He sure didn't get it.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Comments on this post have been closed to stop the anonymous trolls.