July 30, 2011

America: A Little Less Tame

Recently a young male mountain lion walked from the Black Hills of South Dakota to Greenwich, Connecticut, where it unfortunately was struck and killed on a highway.

The appearance of this cat in Connecticut, where the only "cougars" were thought to be in the bar at the golf club, drew much media interest.

The New York Times turned to David Baron, whose book The Beast in the Garden thoughtfully explored human-mountain lion conflicts on Colorado's Front Range.
A single cougar, especially one that is now dead, is not going to transform the lives of many Americans, but what that cougar represents just might. Cougars possess a kind of Pleistocene wildness, reminding us of a time — deep in our evolutionary past — when we were prey to big cats. Even today, cougars in the West on rare occasions kill and eat people (more commonly they kill and eat dogs), and they are reclaiming former habitat, moving into the suburbs and onto the Great Plains. The Greenwich cat may have been a lone scout, but you can be sure others will follow. The resilient, elusive cats that haunt the Western landscape will increasingly haunt the East.
I walked the dogs up onto the national forest today, and they suddenly struck out for a patch of oak brush that they had ignored two days earlier.

Fisher trotted back out with a large bone in his mouth. I found Shelby standing in a smelly, fly-buzzing area of scattered hair and quickly leashed her before she decided to roll in it.

It looked at quick glance (I was busy dog-wrangling) like a lion might have killed a deer, and then other scavengers (bear? coyotes?) had moved in and cleaned up what the lion did not eat right away.

As Baron says, "America has grown a little less tame."

1 comment:

Steve Bodio said...

My dogs have found "lion" kills several times. I try to leave as soon as possible-- I am sure we are watched!