Showing posts with label mountain lions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mountain lions. Show all posts

June 07, 2010

A Camera Trap in a Forest Fire

Despite the loss of the camera to the bears, I was pleased with my last set of camera-trap photos.

But here is something more amazing: a video camera trap that inadvertently captured a forest fire—the Station Fire last year near Los Angeles—as well as bears and mountain lion.

(I consider mountain lions to be my Holy Grail of camera trapping right now.)

It is just amazing that the camera itself survived. What a testimonial.

Angeles Requiem from Tocho on Vimeo.

(Via Wildfire Today.)

UPDATE: The creator of the video has disabled it, with these comments:

Thanks for the views and nice comments everyone. I originally just wanted to share this with friends. Didn't know it would go so viral. I don't want to upset anyone who lost property or loved ones in the fire. This is obviously not 'entertainment'. Also, I don't own the rights to the music, so until I get that sorted out I don't want the video being posted all over the place. Anyone have a classical choir I could borrow? :) Anyway, sorry, and thanks again. I think this was just a little too soon.

April 26, 2010

A New Mountain Lion-Awareness Video

In this four-minute video, the Colorado Division of Wildlife explains that you are unlikely to see a mountain lion in the wild but nevertheless offers suggestions for dealing with them. I like the guy with the bicycle.

Note the "guard animal" at 3:12 or so.

All well and good, but I can tell you from personal experience that throwing rocks and sticks may elicit mere curiosity from the big kitties. I have seen them respond to gun shots over their heads with merely a feline blink. "Hmm, loud noise."

Style note: I still cannot hear "recreate" as a verb without flinching, but what else do you say?

March 15, 2010

Wolves Kill Alaska Jogger--Implications for Colorado

The recent death of a woman runner in Alaska makes me wonder how the "New West" world of outdoor sports would mesh with increasing wolf populations here in Colorado.

Perhaps some of the people who welcome the wolves' return for ecological--and even spiritual--reasons are also the same people who do things like trail running.

The woman who gets out of the car is forty years old, athletic, the mother of two children, with shoulder-length reddish brown hair. She wears a pair of blue nylon shorts, a cranberry sleeveless T-shirt, running shoes, a hat, and cotton gloves against the morning chill. She locks the car and puts the key in a little pouch attached to one of her shoes. Carrying an apple and a water bottle, she leaves the road, running down the trail into the neighboring state park.

The writer is Jordan Fisher Smith, at the time a California state park ranger, reconstructing the death of Barbara Schoener, killed by a mountain lion near Auburn, California, in 1994, in his excellent book Nature Noir.

A similar event occurred in Idaho Springs, Colorado, in 1991 when a high-school cross-country runner, practicing alone, was ambushed by another mountain lion. (More attacks listed here.)

I suspect that back in the Stone Age, people did not go running alone for recreation—or if they did, they carried spears and looked over their shoulders frequently.

Colorado has a healthy mountain lion population. Now we have wolves moving in—inevitable, given the increasing populations to the north.

I understand the ecological aspects of wolf return—the trophic cascade and all that.

But we also have a recreational culture that regards the Colorado Rockies as a big gymnasium-with-trees, put there for the express purpose of skiing, mountain biking, trail-running, etc. Imagine the interaction of a wolf pack with the Leadville 100.

No one goes to the gym expecting to be eaten.

October 23, 2009

Cougars Return (Officially) to Kansas

A Kansas hunter photographs a mountain lion, documenting their return to that state. The photo was taken near WaKeeney, in west-central Kansas.

Since the cat may have come from Colorado, I say, "You're welcome, on behalf of all Coloradans. And please send more quail."

June 18, 2009

Blog Stew with ... No! Leave It!

• Amazing dog digestive story.

• "Why didn't the kitty play nice?" Because it is, as Ernest Hemingway would say, "a big kotsy." More local coverage here.

• Not content merely to assault the kennel clubs over their harmful breed standards, Patrick "Terrrierman" Burns now goes after fish.

Adobe Airstream is a new online magazine on arts and culture in the West started by Conrad Skinner. Interesting content, complex layout--sometimes too complex. Maybe they will get the kinks out eventually.

March 01, 2009

Blog Stew with Thunder Snow Sprinkles

¶ The Colorado Division of Wildlife advises that you think about mountain lions when landscaping. The only problem is that if you took all their recommendations, your grounds would look like a Wal-Mart parking lot.

¶ An undercover operative in a British animal-rights group tells his story. And you thought beagles were trustworthy. He was accepted by the ALF types after he video'd himself vandalizing a car, which tells you something about the group.

¶ At the Nature of a Man blog, a series on animal tracks in the snow.

¶ If I did not know from the Associated Press that it was snowing in the South, I could tell from my visitor logs: three hits from Georgia and one from Alabama from people Googling "thunder snow." (It has happened before.)

September 02, 2008

More Blog Stew

¶ Knowing that mountain lions are just about everywhere, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is studying their interaction with us. "Adverse conditioning" may prove a challenge.

¶ Being a police dog in Scottsdale, Ariz., is a tough life: Watch out for the K-9 officers.

¶ Visit Ecodriving and Governors John Ritter of Colorado and Arnold Schwarzenegger of Kalifornia will tell you how to save gasoline. It's all good advice that your grandparents could have given, but prettily packaged and put online with Flash, etc.

¶ Read Mary Scriver's post on rez dogs and pye dogs:

I try to be anti-romantic and not overly idealistic. Rez dogs, pye dogs, may have a lot to teach us about our need to impose ownership and neatness on the world.

¶ Chris Wemmer dissects an anti-camera trap article from Slate.

May 22, 2008

Blog Stew with Donkey

Men's Health magazine rates Colorado Springs tops for dogs. But the city's two animal shelters are are often snarling at each other.

¶ My neighbor Hal Walter supports Mordecai as official Democratic convention donkey.

¶ After a mountain lion was killed in Chicago, questions remain about a "cougar cover-up."

January 06, 2008

Hominid Behavior for Dummies

Correct mountain-lion encounter behavior as laid out by the South Dakota Division of Wildlife.

There was a time, I am sure, when everyone knew this stuff -- a couple thousand years ago.

Number 7 might be summarized as "Act like an angry ape."

October 15, 2007

Living with Mountain Lions, the Sinapu Way

Because the news media can only frame stories in terms of confrontations--and because advocacy groups inject themselves into controversies to get some attention--a Boulder group called Sinapu leapt into the recent commotion about a Boulder County resident who killed a mountain lion that attacked his dog.

The group does not purchase habitat nor, so far as I can tell from looking at the site, sponsor scientific research. But it does tell you how to live in lion country -- sort of.

Let's look at some of the Sinapu recommendations:

* Make lots of noise if you come and go during the times mountain lions are most active–dusk to dawn.

Oh sure, carry an air horn. Blow a whistle. Do your best imitation of a four-lane arterial boulevard--your neighbors will love it. I know, ride an ATV everywhere! Even just down to the mailbox!

* Install outside lighting. Light areas where you walk so you could see a lion if one were present.

Isn't that why you moved to the mountains, so you could light up your property like a K-Mart parking lot? Screw that "Dark Skies" stuff. Or you could just carry a good flashlight when you need to.

* Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with children about why lions are important to Nature, and teach them what to do if they meet one.

=That boy who was apparently killed by a lion by the Cache la Poudre River was taken in broad daylight, I think. But he was alone.

Although I understand the dawn-and-dusk part, I hate to see anyone advising parents to keep their children indoors -- unless, of course, it is for adult-supervised organized sports practice at a designated athletic facility. Ugh.

* Landscape or remove vegetation to eliminate hiding places for lions, especially around children’s play areas. Make it difficult for lions to approach unseen.

Sure, make the place look like a golf course. It works in Vail.

* Plant native shrubs and plants that deer don’t prefer to eat–thus discouraging them from coming in close to your living quarters. Predators follow prey.

Let's see: Deer evolved with . . . native shrubs. Those are what they browse. Maybe Sinapu should suggest not to plant ornamentals such as crab apples, a big deer favorite. But if you eat your apples, as we do, then there is a trade-off.

* Keep your pet under control. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract lions. Bring pets in at night. If you leave your pet outside, keep it in a kennel with a secure top. Don’t feed pets outside; this can attract raccoons and other animals that are eaten by lions. Store all garbage securely.

Good advice.

* Place livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night. Close doors to all outbuildings since inquisitive lions may go inside for a look.

Might work if you have a horse or a few goats, but not practical for actual ranchers.

* Encourage your neighbors to follow these simple precautions. Prevention is far better than a possible lion confrontation.

Do you see what is missing? What do you do if things go very, very wrong and all of these passive precautions fail?

Sinapu likes to talk about "stewardship," but they inevitably slide off into Timothy Treadwell-ism. "Stewardship" includes the power of life and death; it implies control. But they do not want to go there.

(And don't forget, always wear a helmet when going outdoors!)

October 12, 2007

The Minnesota Mountain Lion

As long as I am posting about game-camera photos, a hunter's camera has now proved the existence of cougars in northern Minnesota.

Bill Berg, now retired after a long career as wildlife biologist for the DNR in Grand Rapids, says he saw two videos and a few pictures of mountain lions in northern Minnesota, but it was always difficult to know if the animals were wild or escaped pets.

But Berg doesn’t doubt that a few mountain lions exist in Minnesota at any given time.

“No doubt there’s an animal now and then, and I think some of them are wild animals dispersing and some are cats that got too big for the kitty litter.”

Usage question: Can we call them mountain lions in Minnesota, which is a little short on actual mountains?

Without actual mountains, seizing the moral high ground in the best Boulder, Colo., style will be only a metaphorical act.

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.