Monday, June 30, 2008

"Here, kitty, kitty, kitty...."

We have an abundance of wildlife in this area. I've always been glad that we live here for that reason. The Game Commission is supposed to have trapped a 600 pound bear from a populated area and relocated it here in the boonies, releasing it behind the Scandia Fire Department. We have coyotes and regularly hear them singing down in the woods. We have deer, of course, and a myriad of other birds, including bald eagles, and small mammals too numerous to count running about. The majority of the rattlesnake population is on the other side of the reservoir (which explains why I'm happy on my side of the reservoir). As far as cats, well, we have our bobcats, although I have never seen one in the wild.
One animal that has long been the stuff of local legend is the mountain lion.
The Game Commission denies their existance in our area. Through the years, however, there've been the irregular sightings of them. My own aunt, coming out of her second shift night job with a group of other ladies was astonished to see a cougar race across the parking lot, bound on the hood of a car, leap up a bank and disappear into the woods. She's certain of what she saw in the glow of the lights that night probably 35 years ago. So, like I said, on and off, you've got the sporatic reports of cougar sightings, which the Game Commission is always quick to pooh-pooh, claiming that a bobcat has been misidentified. Me, I don't know. Never saw one, myself, and I tend to be one of those 'believe-it-when-I-see-it' types, but I know that my auntie is a straight-on kind of person, not given to flights of fancy, so I've never quite been able to say with all certainty that the Game Commission knows whereof it speaks. As my auntie will tell you, there is quite a size difference between a cougar and a bob cat. She'll also tell you that what streaked across the parking lot that night had a long tail.
Tim went to his mother's 80th birthday party yesterday. There were a lot of people there who make their living in the woods, and some of them were claiming to have seen cougars in the thick forests of Cherry Grove, seen them with their own eyes. I know what the Game Commission will say, but some of these people are pretty straight-on kinds, not given to flights of fancy.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this.
These forests are thick in some areas, and the mountains rugged. There are places where the roads don't go. Who can say, with any certainty, what has taken up residence in these secret places?


Pencil Writer said...

I remember seeing a cougar once in the mountains in Utah. There are quite a bit of them out there: it's rugged, mountainous and well, just the place for cougars/mountain lions. Seen a few bobcats out this way in Louisiana, and yeah! There's quite a HUGE difference in their size and general description and cougars--aside from them both being cats. We have lots of wooded areas here. LOTS! And I know several people reporting their personal sightings of a black panther run (or slink) through the woods, and have heard their rather eerie screams.

Apparently, the local authorities have tried to pooh-pooh these stories as fantasy. I tend to consider them plausible.

And then, there was the newsworthy mention of a tiger, yes I said, TIGER, lost in the woods not far from here. The details of just HOW a tiger got loose in the woods was a little vague, but they had the authorities out scouting for it for a few weeks. Reportedly, the government at Ft. Polk, if I'm remembering the details correctly, hired some big game trackers for some healthy $$$ to find it. They didn't. A local game warden--one my husband knows--was in on the search and actually found the tracks of said tiger. Tiger paw prints are HUGE. They are BIG, BIG cats--actually the largest cats living. At any rate the big, bad game trackers weren't able to find it and many of the local backwoods men laughed themselves silly over that fact.

The theory is that the poor, beautiful beast met it's demise at the hands of some local hunter--or something. (Sob!) My husband joked that we might one day have a sighting or two of some little tigers lurking in the backwoods of Louisiana! I suppose the one that got away could possibly have mated with some of those theoretical black panthers and have some interesting offspring!

These backwoods are very thick and who knows what one might find!!!!

BTW tigers are my MOST favorite CAT. I think they are gorgeous and want one--during the Milennium--you know when lions (and other beasts of prey) are supposed to be harmless and eat straw. I'm awed by tigers!

Lavinia said...

I guess no one can say with certainty unless they've seen it with their own eyes. I think your aunt knows what she saw.

All kinds of things take up residence in secret places!

Mary O. Paddock said...

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, we weren't supposed to have them here either.

Several years ago I was walking down a gravel road with my German Shepherd. The dog had been on full alert for ten minutes or so and I'd been watching him as his nose worked the air.

A large animal shot across the road in front of us, under the fence and up the hill; then he paused to look back at us.

My eyes did not want to believe what they were seeing, but once I finally focused, I realized we were looking at a mountain lion.

My husband didn't believe me at first, but I spoke with the woman farmer the next day and she confirmed that she'd been seeing tracks around her pond for a couple of weeks.

When she reported it, the MDC assured her that there weren't any.

Then another farmer saw it while he was haying a few days later.

A few weeks after that, one ran across the road in front of the car in front of mine. Both of us had to pull over and talk about it. 'Very exciting.

Finally after some other local shot one a few miles away, the MCD admitted we might have "a few" here, but they were simply passing through on their way to greener hills.