This morning, at the early hour of 4:30, I heard a Cougar's spine-chilling scream. I was already up; Graham has a virus circulating through his body, and the subsequent stuffiness he is experiencing brings great, loud snores...
Just recently, a dog named Angel rescued her young master from a Cougar as he was gathering wood outside his home in Boston Bar, BC. And in Burns Lake, BC, a mother rescued her young son from an attack by flicking a towel at the Cougar's head.
I live in a forested area. I have heard Cougar's cry a few times, since we moved here. But I heard those cries in the Summer...a time when food is plentiful for these large Cats.
Cougar is not unknown to me. Throughout most of my life, I have lived in areas where Cougar is prevalent. On Vancouver Island, many of Cougar's normal prey, such as porcupines, do not exist. The Deer population is smaller. And so, I have learned to be wary when I wander in the Forest, no matter where the Forest may be.
My intuition told me a few nights ago that a predator was near. Nate wanted to go out in the middle of the night. That in itself is not unusual, since our Nate sometimes cannot control his waterworks for the whole night. What was unusual is that Lucky, very deliberately, in intensely cold temperatures, went out with him and sat on the deck, watching.
And I watched them both, very thankful when Nate was done and they both came in safely.
We have fenced in part of our three acres of wild Forest. Most of the Animals who wander through on the age old trails that dot the property respect that fence. But what happens when hunger...that great, growling beast in the pit of the stomach...takes away that respect?
We live in an area of abundance regarding wildlife. There are Deer, Moose and Elk that regularly use the trails, along with the predators...the Wolf, Coyote, Fox and Cougar.
In my research I discover that young Cougars who have just left the maternal umbrella are the ones most often confused and hungry enough to attack Humans. Children under sixteen are most at risk, considering their quick movements and high-pitched voices...and small size.
The Cougar's primary prey is Deer, although wild Sheep, Elk, Moose, Rabbits, Beavers, Raccoons and Grouse also figure as dinner. During late Spring and Summer, young Cougars routinely leave their mothers and roam widely in search of their own territory. And this is when they are most likely to interact with humans.
Humans have moved ever further into Cougar territory. How can these wild Animals know they are to have no interaction with the two-legged creatures? Especially when those Humans leave garbage strewn about, seemingly an invitation to dine? Hunger will drive an animal to desperate actions.
It is not only Cougars who encroach on Human communities. When I visited my daughter over Christmas, I was astonished when I was shown a gate and fence a Bear had destroyed, on my daughter's property. She lives in a well-populated area. But there are many Bears where she lives that have threatened pets and left their calling cards everywhere in a desperate search for food. With Salmon populations declining heavily last Summer, Bear is left to forage in subdivisions.
I love Cougar and Bear and any of the wild predators. They are magnificent creatures to me. I understand their needs. I am the interloper in their domain; as a result, most of our property is left treed and wild. I would love to actually see Cougar, through the windows, with everyone safely inside, and close enough to photograph!
I'm unable to come up with an answer to the age old question of encroachment on animal life. I only know I am more vigilant these days when I wander outside. I check the large Trees which are everywhere on our property. I prepare myself for any eventuality, by carrying a large stick. Pepper spray would not be amiss, yet I am not sure I would have time to use it.
And I quite often sing, at the top of my voice, when the Dogs sniff the air and look suspicious.
I feel my version of "Let It Be" should scare off any predator!