Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mountain Lion Seen Prowling Neighborhood

   I went fishing with a friend one evening after work last week. On the way he had to hit the brakes hard as a large black bear crossed the road in front of us. We got a good close look at it as it ambled away in no particular hurry. It was great to see as a bear sighting in our part of New York State is not an everyday event.
   As we moved off road to get to the backwoods pond we intended to fish, we saw several deer, including a couple of bucks with their antlers in velvet.
   Meanwhile, back at home my wife and son were spotting wildlife too.
   “We saw a mountain lion in the next door neighbor’s back yard,” Dawn told me when I got home later that night.
   “Okay, I said I saw a bear, so you had to one-up me by saying you saw a mountain lion,” I said. “Obviously you’re sore that I got back so late from fishing. Now it’s my turn again. I forgot to tell you that we saw Bigfoot fishing next to us and he was reeling in the Loch Ness Monster.”
   “I knew it. I knew you wouldn’t believe us.” She glared at me with those laser eyes of hers narrowed and focused on me as if she was preparing to burn a hole through my brain with her superhuman powers. If those superhuman powers didn’t work I knew from experience that soon she’d resort to throwing things at me.
   “We really did see a mountain lion Dad,” my son Sean said. “It was close. It wasn’t a house cat, it wasn’t a coyote, it wasn’t a dog and it wasn’t one of the alpacas from the farm around the corner.”
   “It had a long tail and it walked like a cat, except it was huge,” Dawn added.
   Soon the story spread throughout the neighborhood. I did a little Internet research and learned that while there had been numerous mountain lion sightings in the state over the years, some were disproved, some were discounted and most of the others were disbelieved.
   The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation maintained the official stance that there is no breeding population of mountain lions in New York, although they admitted the possibility that one could have escaped from captivity.
   My next door neighbor who owns the property where the creature was seen told us he was told “unofficially” by a DEC acquaintance that some mountain lions had been released in the state to keep the deer population reduced.
   That didn’t make sense to me, so knowing how the state works, it’s probably true. There’s already an unchecked coyote population feeding on too many of our deer. If the state wants to further reduce the deer population, why not reduce the cost of a hunting license or raise the season limit on the number of deer a hunter can shoot?
   In any case, after hearing stories of mountain lions mauling joggers and mountain bikers in California, I suppose I'll have the big cats in the back of my mind the next time I hit the trail.

No comments: