Monday, August 31, 2009

Mountain lion

We had the most amazing experience yesterday. One of our campers told Tom that he had found a mountain lion kill. Knowing that this is practically unheard of, we headed off on a hike to find it. Mountain lions are very elusive animals and are very rarely seen in the wild, neither Tom or I have ever seen one. It is said that for every 24 hours you are in the woods, a mountain lion has seen you for at least one hour of that time. With as much time as we spend in the forest, we have been watched plenty, but never lucky enough to see a cougar, let alone get a chance to study it's kill.
Mountain Lions are solitary animals that are ambush hunters. They have a very wide home range, and it is uncommon for cats to share territories. Males never share their territory with another male, they will even kill offspring if it doesn't move out of it's home turf. Lions mostly feed on deer, but are known to even eat insects and rodents for the ever needed protein. An elk is a very impressive kill for a single mountain lion.
When we arrived on scene I was absolutely amazed at the size of the elk, he was the second largest elk I have seen, beaten only by one that I packed out during hunting season 2 years ago. He had a perfectly symmetrical rack, each side having six points! The mountain lion had made a bed near by, and from the scat (remember, I'm a poop expert-ha!) piles, we gathered that it had been a mama and cub that had worked together to hunt this magnificent animal. The elk was very old, which is how they were able to take him, we could tell by his teeth. It was so cool how the lions had tried to bury him with all sorts of grass and sticks, but there was no hiding that big boy.
Now, this is where the mom in me comes in. This is not something you should try at home. We were in clear and present danger to be near a mountain lions next few days of meals. We were very prepared with two armed guards and approached the scene very carefully. It wasn't until we spotted the turkey vultures that we knew we could get closer. The vultures would not have been there if the lion was. While a couple of people checked things out, the others watched for signs of the big cat, and then we switched; always making sure at least two people were watching for the cats return. We took our photos and exited stage left for nature to continue its oh so cool and wondrous ways of working.
PS If you are interested in seeing the pics, let me know.


Amy BYrne said...

Fascinating, I would love to see the pis. Where was it? David and I have always wanted to see cougar.

Anonymous said...

I want to see your pictures, too. Love ya, Mom