Wednesday, January 06, 2010


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!


  1. They are such magnificent animals. It's so sad when they have to be destroyed because as you say they were here first, we are the interloper.

  2. Wow, Marion, and I thought I had it bad with my Raccoon family in the back yard. (I feed them catfood and they think they're cats...) We have woods across the street from us, but the only predators are Hawks and Screech Owls---who ate an entire population of tame doves and pigeons we had years ago. I didn't know y'all had such a menagerie of wildlife up there in the frozen North. Be careful!! You cracked me up with the last line. Thanks for the smile. Blessings!

  3. Vancouver Island is known for cougar attacks. I remember hearing about one guy who was taken off his bicycle and saved by a passing motorist.

    Peggy and I were staying with relatives in rural, mountainous Georgia one night when Peggy awakened screaming from a nightmare. Since our bedroom was far removed from the rest, the relatives asked us the next morning, "Did you hear that panther screaming--sounded just like a woman?"

    Here, in Oregon, we have saved our schnauzer from being eaten by a bobcat, an owl, and a hawk. At least all three were definitely stalking him. For his part, he was oblivious. I have often watched for cougars, especially at dusk, but we've only seen one, and we spotted it while driving.

    I've been reading Robert E. Howard stories lately, and he often wrote about cougars, which he usually referred to as catamounts.

  4. Jan,

    I know. I wish, always, that there was another way. Tranquilizing the animal and removing it to another area does not always ensure the animal will not attack again. Or return to create more havoc. But I think it is one of the saddest things...that humans and animals must be at loggerheads.


    When we lived in Qualicum Beach, there was a family of Raccoons who visited regularly. I have photos of them. The dogs would tree them, of course, but it became normal to see them in the big old Cork Trees which ringed our property.

    We have an awesome Owl who lives in a Tree down the hill from us. He is silent and quick; he's taken care of our overrunning Squirrel population. I'm so sorry you lost your pigeons and doves...our first summer here, I watched a few rogue squirrels kill a large number of finches. But nature balances...the Owl took care of the squirrels!


    How nice to see you! I hope you are feeling a little better during these long days of Winter.

    Cougars DO sound either like a screaming woman or screeching child...I have yet to decide which. It quite raises the hair on my neck, each and every time.

    There were a few Cougar hunters, with Cougar hounds, where I lived on Vancouver Island. They were quite legendary, since Cougars abound on that Island, as you say, especially in the early days.

    I'm glad that my dogs are large, because at least the flying predators leave them alone. Lucky has some kind of relationship with an Eagle who regularly flies overhead, calling...and Lucky sits and barks back at him.It's a very strange sight...I have yet to figure it out.

    Robert E. first husband read all his books. Conan the Barbarian, right? I quite like the word catamount for the large cats!

  5. Sweet Marion I don't know if your version of let it be will be enough.

    So be careful especially if you heard it so close.

    Love Renee xoxo

  6. What an amazing post. I get excited if I see a 'possum in my year. They can get big and snarly but I'm sure competition for cougar. If fact, they might make a nice snack.

    We have the very occasional cougar wandering into urban areas here and sadly, it usually is a bad ending for the cougar.

    They are such gorgeous creaatures but all things being equal, I'm very glad they stay away for the most part.

  7. When Wayne and I lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles we often saw signs that warned of mountain lions in the are, but I never saw one. But we did hear and see packs of wild coyotes all the time. We lost several cats before we decided to make them indoor only. That was the only way they could survive.

    We have cougar here in the back country around Powell River. Our friend John has seen them several times, but he has his dog Bro to give him a warning. The trick is to keep the dog from chasing the cougar and getting hurt or worse.

    On a quad ride last year the lead bikes came upon a cougar and bear in a fight. Their sudden appearance gave the bear a chance to take flight. I'm not sure who would have won that contest, my guess was the cougar. - Margy

  8. marion, you manage to include reverence and mystery in every tale you tell, even just-the-facts.

    i have never seen a cougar. my area has black bears, and at least one has been in my yard. when i moved here i learned quickly: no bird feeders in the winter and if you are face to face with a black bear, walk backwards slowly, and quietly.

    wonderful post, heart sister.


  9. Renee,

    I feel fairly safe...I have two big dogs who would not hesitate to engage. I don't want that, of course, and so, I am very, very cautious on some days when I feel a predator is near. They don't want to engage with me, either, unless they are beyond hungry.

    I'll be extremely careful, I promise!


    It's rarely good for the Cougar if he decides to encroach on human life. I really, really wish they would stay away, but we have taken so much land away, going ever farther into the wilderness and depleting animal resources as we go. How in the World are we going to make the predators understand it is no longer their land?


    Coyotes sing so beautifully down in the valley on Summer nights and occasionally even in the Winter. They are so common here I catch glimpses of them all the time. But I would worry if I had a Cat or even Chickens...there would be raids, for sure.

    Dogs are great for warnings. As you say, however, I don't want them to chase any predator...they would come out the worse for it. I keep the Dogs close to me, even when I'm close to the house, these days.

    Wow...a Bear and a Cougar in a fight...I presume the Bear must have had cubs somewhere close by? What a sight that must have been...I am glad you saved the Bear!


    Good advice re Bear sightings! Also, make yourself look really, really big...project enormous energy to that Bear as you're backing away.

    With Cougar, you want to make as much noise as you can. Use sticks, branches, rocks...yell as loud as you can, wave scarves whatever you have to to make that Cougar understand you are not to be trifled with. Running is not good, unless you are very close to a house or vehicle.

    I feel for the Black Bear. He has become a garbage hound and has learned human communities are a source of food. My daughter cannot put out her bird feeder, either...those black sunflower seeds pack a lot of protein, which hungry Bear and other animals crave.

  10. Happy New Year to you both. Sorry , haven't visited much due to getting a casual job over the holidays. Left me very tired so wasn't online much but on the up side helped with the bills.

    Cougars and bears are so magnificent. Shame they have to share their food with humans who quite easily survive on veggies.

  11. The largest predator we have is a fox. But apparently according to the press there are some "big cats" about, as in the beast of Bodmin Moor. They are possibly escapees from wildlife parks or pets that have been illegally released. I'm just happy to have foxes though.

  12. Marion, I have a great book on animal spirit guides. Here is what it says about Cougar:

    You're being called upon to provide leadership to your family, friends, community or the world as a whole.
    There's a need for you to be very decisive right now and not equivocate.
    Stop procrastinating with respect to that important task - just get to it.
    Stay strong, clear and assertive with those who are asking or demanding that you change when you're not ready to.
    Move forward with faith and courage, and keep your eyes on the goal.

    Once again, I love the way you write ... you always draw me in!


  13. Jackie,

    I'm so glad you were able to find a job to help with the bills...but I'm sorry it tired you out! It takes awhile for one's body to adjust. Your post on Olive Oil was super, though...another info packed post!


    Wow. Having animals escape or released from captivity into the wild IS scary. They are wise about humans and unwise about having to fend for themselves.

    I love the Fox. He can make me laugh with his antics everytime I see him. He reminds me of a cat, the way he leaps about.


    Thank you for the info on Cougars as ally or totem. It could certainly be a message to me, since I hear Cougar's scream each time I return from the Coast. And I was going to mention it in my post, yet I don't feel entirely sure about Cougar being one of my allies. If he is, it would be new to me...I have not considered Cougar before, although I know he is my daughter's ally. She identifies very strongly with Cougar and she IS a teacher!

  14. beautiful but scary

    Marion, did you get the package? I sent it the day after receiving your address I believe.