Saturday, May 26, 2007

Urban Cougar -Forest City Mascot?


If you've visited this long post before, be sure to scroll towards end to read 2008/09 media links to on-going cougar attacks and sightings. If you think media reports are exaggerated, you might scan statistics compiled by a blogger in California.
In event of a cougar encounter, real fear and panic can kick in -with disasterous consequences. VancouverIsland.com provides important advice to rugged westerners venturing into the big cat's wilderness territory. Given the common reaction of housewives to scampering mice, this site is an essential read when cougars (aka mountain lions) make forays into densely populated urban areas. In the east, cougar attacks are indeed rare: rare because, so far, the predator is rare. Their numbers are growing fast however, and no one wants to hear of a child being mauled. That's why parent education is vital. They must be vigilant, because there is little use telling a child not to run, to stare the kitty-cat in the eye, and try to look as big and mean as possible.
The arrival of 4-legged predators adds a whole new dimension to "Neighbourhood Watch." If you spot a big long-tailed cat roaming your locale, hustle children inside, snap a picture if you can, alert neighbours, call police and dial MNR.
An Ottawa Citizen article of March 15, 2012,  relays MNR confirmation that there are indeed breeding populations of wild cougars in Ontario.

Here is an email originally sent to grand-kids in mid-May of 2007. Read some serious satire plus sobering links -and make up your own mind about cougars.
Hallo, my Dearest
Yesterday morning, I stealthily tip-toed through the trilliums hoping to see deer and wild turkeys grazing on the far side of the woods. There were none in sight, but I did spot a pair of cat-like animals which I had only seen before in books and zoos. Beyond the open woods, a pair of brown animals were stalking woodchucks. One came along the fence-towards me and the cows. The other, squatted and stayed very still, looking towards the ravine. Suddenly, it bounded in long smooth leaps down the slope and out of sight. Its partner joined in the chase, and soon a flock of turkeys exploded over the ridge and flew to safety in the trees.
I did not have a camera, but was able to watch them for about 10 minutes in an open area. To see them so close to cattle and subdivisions was alarming. For the first time in decades of country living, this is my only sighting of the elusive cougar. Lately, they are spotted with increasing frequency in the City of London and on the nearby Oneida First Nations lands.

It's a bird. It's a UFO (unidentifable feline object.) It's Supercat. He can can pounce from 40 feet up, leap 30 feet on the ground and hit 60 km and hour in a sprint. Supercat is about 7 feet from the nose to the tip of tail; the tail being about the same length as the body.
Supercat is the ultimate "stalk and ambush" predator; big, quick, ferocious and deadly. He will eat about 50 deer a year. A female with 3 kittens will double the deer kill of a male. Whereas coyotes hunt in packs, cougars are generally loners. A pair is only together at mating time, and a mother will look after her young for about a year and a half.
A cougar hunts a river corridor for a week or so and then moves up stream or down stream, circling back in another season as hunger for fresh venison dictates. Turn up the volume to hear its blood-curdling scream.
Crouching on rocks and tree limbs, these Bambi killers stalk a variety of unsuspecting creatures. In sparsely populated western terrain, they are known to attack horse, sheep, camper, cyclist, hiker, and skier. Now, such havoc is about to be unleashed in densely populated southern Ontario. Some jurisdictions permit one to defend self and loved ones against a pit-bull dog, but not against the big long-tailed cat. And to add to civic madness, "some" cities believe large passive parks for deer and their predators constitutes great urban planning.
Be sure to tell your golfing uncles to look over their shoulders and to stay out of the rough. Because running triggers the cougar's chase instinct, early-morning joggers are particularly at risk. By the way, an Ontario hunter in the same defensive circumstances as that turkey hunter in Nevada would face a crippling fine or two years in prison -or both; pity his poor wife and children.
Since cougars, not humans are the protected species, farmers will have to carry a pop gun -or perhaps a loud chainsaw, and hikers in Gibbons Park, Komoka Park, Sifton Bog and Warbler Wood might be wise to carry bear repellent. Parents and teachers should warn adventurous students to avoid wooded river banks and parks during the holidays.

Cities and towns are for people.
City parks are for families, not wildlife refuges.
Urban corridors connecting "passive woodlots" for marauding animals are not in the public interest.
Upon including cities (over-run with deer) in their hunting territory, cougars tend to lose fear of dogs and people and come to see them as fresh meat.
Are politicians caring enough to face these realities -or will they await inevitable tragedy?

Toronto has a zoo. London is fast becoming one with geese, coyote, cougar, fox and wild turkey. Next, we will try to attract black bears and wild boars -and to fascinate Junior, let's add the endangered Massassauga rattler.

Before Council can officially proclaim Supercat as new mascot, Little Red Riding Hood has more to worry about than the rabid wolf when she visits Grandma in Forest City.

Take care. Love, Grand-dad

PS
Brave lads, here's a test for you, big sis, your mom, gramps and grandma:

If you should cross paths with a cougar (rather than being the victim of a stalk and pounce approach from the rear) would you?
(a) follow our learned friends' advice and stare the beast in the eye while waving your arms and trying to look as big and mean as possible
(b) freeze and wet yur pants
(c) fill yur pants, turn and run
(d) faint on the spot
(e) have a heart attack
If your instinctive reaction was (a), do you believe Supercat would be the first to blink?
How do you think the cougar would respond to the more likely reactions (b), (c), (d) or (e)?
In any case, tally the family results and forward them to the Mayor.
What else would you do to convince City and Province to act in curbing this new city menace?
E-mail the Mayor: adecicco-best@london.ca. and, the Deputy Mayor: tgosnell@london.ca
And, be sure to message or copy:
Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty mailto:dmcgquinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org or, try his new Minister of Natural Resources, the Hon Donna Cansfield: dcansfield@liberal.ola.org
Also, PC leader John Tory: john.tory@pc.ola.org
------------------------Cougar Chronicle-----------------------
The Eastern Cougar is listed under Ontario's Endangered Species Act. Since a hunter cannot distinguish the protected species from other subspecies, all cougars are essentially protected from harm and harassment under the Act. Even with DNA analysis, it is difficult to define a genetic profile for the Eastern Cougar, i. e. they essentially have the same genes and attack instincts as the western Mountain Lion. If the somewhat isolated incidents in the sparsely settled Rockies are any indication, then once recovery efforts in Ontario's populous heartland bear fruit, killing and mauling of children can be expected -especially as deer are depleted.
Many researchers and predator sympathizers do not believe the Eastern Cougar survived efforts of pioneers to eradicate threats to farms and early settlements. The media picks up on the tune that the menace having disapeared by the late 1800s, there have been no cougar attacks in Ontario in the intervening (cougar-less) century. With their rebound, all the more reason for the MNR to act in reducing real threats by any artificially introduced cross-breeds -especially in metropolitan areas. When it comes to controlling the dangerous cougar population, however, the MNR apparently has a "no-touch" policy under their mandate of protecting native wild life. Yet, when it comes to roaming domestic fallow dear, which are not native but are harmless to humans, they have a "no-tolerance" policy.
In Pamplona, the crazies run with the bulls ...and some get gored.
In the Forest City (an oxymoron), thrill-seekers will be tempted to befriend cougars ...and some will get bites and scratches, others will be breakfast. The point being: Bulls and pumas have their appropriate places, but by their lethal nature can never share urban spaces with people.
  • Does something have to be done about urban deer management, and elimination of cougar and coyote threats in cities ? Absolutely, if citizens are to reclaim safe usage of back yards, community parks and pathways.
After a cougar chased a couple and their dog near their home in Prince Edward County, the local newspaper attempted to draw attention to the matter by headlining, "Cougar sightings few and far between: expert " The quoted expert claimed, "With wild cougars there is not really any danger at all. They're quite a shy animal." Readers of the Belleville Intelligencer know that regardless of source , the eating habits of these big cats are deadly, unpredictable -and unacceptable in farming and urban areas.
Across North America, cougars are not endangered. In the far west they are locally common and are legally hunted in some parts.
  • Skeptics might scan this synopsis of fatal cougar attacks in North America. Given this trail of fatalities, one can only guess at the number of children left with disfigurement and permanent scarring after being mauled by cougars.
  • With their alarming population increase they are quickly spreading eastward into agricultural and urbanized areas. Already, their presence has been noted in northern Michigan and in northern , eastern and southern Ontario.

    After just over a century of eastern containment, the lid on Pandora's puma box has been sprung. Organized apologists for a predator that can maim or kill you or your child would ignore the sobering implications. To them, cougars are the peak of wild beauty and deadly power. Hence equal space here to the US-based easterncougar.org whose aims are:
    1. To teach us to live with cougars.
    2. Propagation and protection of cougars regardless of origin -and regardless of human population density and threat to kids, pets and farm animals.
    Then, we have the Nature Canada organization who appeal for help in "stimulating concern for this beautiful endangered animal. " But again, without any concern for endangered children. Schocked by the ordeal of a mother and child, another organization calls the actions of cougar propagators criminal.
Some readers may have heard a July 5th, 2007 CBC interview of London's Manager of Environmental Programs. He stated there have been at least 10 recent sightings of big cat-like animals along the City's river and creek valleys. His concluding comment preplexed CBC listeners: Londoners may have to learn to live with cougars just as they have done with deer. " Left unsaid, "It's the City policy of not culling the timid white-tailed forager that entices the foracious predator to enter and linger in our midst." Whereas, citizens may tolerate hedge-nibbling deer, brazen turkeys and lawn-pooping Canada geese, they are not about to live with child-stalking predators. City Hall has yet to make the distinction between menace and nuisance -and between pest and predator.
The City of Yellowknife officials are more pro-active. See media advisory
Cougars preference for habitat is a large back-woods area along a waterway with plentyful food supply. Apparently the Forest City qualifies. The question for thinking Londoner's is: "Given increasing big-cat sightings over the last year, where will such lassiez-faire attitudes leave us by the next election?" Certainly, slow thinking and even slower reaction by public servants will not protect the vulnerable (kids and old folks) in our neigbourhoods from a cunning and lethal predator.
In and around Calgary, cougar management is practiced by catching and removing predators to more remote areas; still, wildlife experts expect increasing urban encounters. Oregon takes a more drastic approach to cougar management in urban areas.
Near Kamloops, a 12-year-old boy recovers in hospital from major lacerations to his face, scalp and rib cage. After cougar maulings of a girl (accompanied by her mother) and of a tourist in a campground, a BC conservation officer warns, "Cougars are particularly dangerous because of shortage in their normal prey."
Note: The officer did not say the cougar population becomes self-regualting through cannabilism and starvation. As cougars continue to breed and cull deer, these resident predators will not go hungry. It boils down to:
More cougars = Less venison = Hungry cats = Child prey
To the east, cougar revival appears to be centered in the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority's 234 hectare Wainfleet Bog and in the Kawartha Lakes area. In the west and just downstream of London and First Nations lands, the likely sources of our city's prowling cougars are the Skunk's Misery conservation complex and the nearby Nature Conservatory of Canada lands.

Remember, the only threats to cougars in the 1800s were the guns and hounds of farmers and trappers. By the 21st century Ontario Man was effectively defanged and neutered by legislation. Is there any confidence that today's enforcers of gun laws and the Endangered Species Act have the balls to eradicate a deadly predator from our cities and towns?

Read a long article in a 2003 issue of Outdoor Magazine. In detailing his quest for confronting a cougar in the wild, the author sheds some light on the amazingly fast and frightful cougar comeback. Multiple attacks on cyclists and horses suggest cougars quickly acquire a taste for more than vension.
Media reports of sightings and attacks usually include the disclaimer: "Cougar attacks on humans are very rare." As evidenced by many links in this article, such comments should read, "Cougar attacks on humans are growing in frequency both in the wilderness and in farming and urban areas." Indeed, with an abundance of 2-legged (human and turkey) prey and a fluctuating supply of 4-legged prey, cougars in southern Ontario could soon be out of control.
Farmers are used to handling large animals and are unlikely to be intimidated by a cougar. Those not so conditioned, eg. campers, owners of hobby farms, seasonal residents in cottage country and urbanites need to get informed -and should be alerted by authorities when cougars are spottted near their homes. Even professional cougar trackers are fair game. No one should approach a cougar, its kill, or its kittens.
Who then, in their right mind would campaign to introduce child-eaters in areas frequented by families? Trent and other universities in conjunction with the Canadian Wild Life Service, use endangered educational dollars to talk-up habitat recovery for this wide-ranging predator. Indeed, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resourced, in conjunction with the Ontario Puma , is quietly developing a recovery plan for the cougar. Since academics, bureaucrats and councillors can be slow to comprehend unintended consequences, it's up to farm organizations (CFFO and OFA) plus sensible urbanites to call for a sunset clause on the "protected" status of the cougar, request the legalization of wild animal repellant for campers, farmers, joggers and hunters -and plans for regional predator control programs. Because of the big cat's protected status, anyone shooting a cougar in an attempt to protect himself, family members, a pet or livestock could end up in court.
Contact your MP and MPP and copy the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources. It will take exceptional grass-root resolve to prompt politicians at all levels to react -let alone lead.
  • The MNR, after acknowledging the presence of cougars in Ontario, has just set up a research project (Trent/MNR/DNA Lab) in Peterborough.
  • Not yet convinced that cougar recovery in central and eastern areas of the continent -and over-spill into southern Ontario's urban areas is alarming? Then read about the Medal of Bravery awarded to Elliot Cole for saving a cyclist -and the posthumous Star of Courage award to a BC mother who died in saving her six-year-old son from a cougar.
    Maybe it's time for mothers displaying a "Baby on Board" sign in their car's window, to paste a "Children before Cougars" sticker on the bumper.

    Since a child's life is worth more than a cougar's, the arrival of the stealthy urban intruder is not to be celebrated. If parents become aware of a killer loose in a nearby woods, what can they do? Heed disclaimers of experts and await the mutilation of the first child -or educate themselves on the ever increasing threats (see media items below) and insist on responsible wildlife management.

    Grey County Back-date December 2006
    The Georgian Bay Explorer reports Cougars spotted throughout Grey County
    London Up-date Sat June 16, 2007
    Another sighting on Westdel just south of Oxford St W. A resident awoke to a ruckus in his front yard at 1 am. A cougar was attacking what appeared to be raccoon up in a tree. Police were notified around 8 am. On Monday the MNR arrived to search for animal hairs and scat.
    London Up-date June 7
    Residents and police see and hear another cougar in Byron Village
    London Up-date Mon June 18
    There was a daylight sighting by police near Exeter Road.
    Manitoba Jan 2007
    Good description of cougar feeding on prey together with sharp picture.
    Saskatoon alert of June 19
    Saskatoon June 22
    Police spot cougar patrolling a foot-path on the other side of the river.
    Saskatoon to deploy tracking hounds. June, 29
    London Up-date June 29
    Forest City retains under-cover specialist to confirm if sinister Big Cats roam.
    Quebec June 29
    Gatineau Park sighting.
    Whistler BC July4
    Conservation officer shoots cougar suspected of stalking cyclists and golfers.
    London Up-date July 11
    Having spooked residents and deer in west London, mystery animal(s) make foray into the London's Medway Creek Valley, bringing count of suspected sightings to 17.
    Whistler BC July 23
    Cougar that chased cyclists and allegedly stalked golfers finally killed.
    Belleville Cougar July 24
    Prince Edward County couple and Labrador Retreiver chased by cougar in field behind their home.
    West of Saskatoon July 26
    Fatal attacks on horses implicate cougars.
    Saskatchewan July 27
    Farmer blames cougar for killing horses in paddock, while official says, "The reason people are seeing more cougars and the effects of cougars is because we are going into their territory."
    Hot Weather Hunt Comes up Cold August 3
    London Under-cover Specialist finds no hard evidence in spite of over 30 reported sightings.
    Simcoe County Aug 16
    Cougar north of Barrie dines on wild turkey.
    Georgina, York Region August 22
    Horse injuries blamed on cougar. Laurentian University confirms fur sample was from a cougar.
    Saskatoon Aug 23 "News types" spot down-town cougar. Sask Environment say there's still no hard evidence.
    Vancouver Island Aug 23
    Another BC parent saves small son from big cat.
    Canmore Alberta Aug 29
    Family terrorized. Cougar has hissy-fit after house wife throws brick at terrier-snatching cat.
    Welland Sept 12
    Big cat attacks horse in paddock
    Vancouver Island Sept 20 Cougar spotted close to Day Care, Elementary, and High School.
Vancouver Island, Horne Lake Oct 1 Cougar lunges at dog and owner out for walk.
Colorado, USA Oct 8 Cougar grabs dog on chain, and owner shoots to protect himself.
Minnesota, Oct 12 Trailcam records Cougar in wild.
Parkhill, Ont. Oct 23
Cougars are now patrolling Ontario's west coast in vicinity of Pinery Provincial Park.
Pelham, Ont. Oct 26 Spooked resident claims big cat visits his barn, but MNR'r motion-camera shows nothing of interest.
Warwick, Ont. Nov 1 Big cat spotted alongside Lambton County road. Police issue alert.
Arizona, Nov 16 Bioligist dies after performing a necropsy on a cougar that was later confirmed to have died of the plague.
Port Franks, Ont Nov 16 Big Cat spotted in yard tree in Lake Huron community.
Missoula, Montana Nov 20 Deer hunter stalked, panics, drops rifle, and runs to get behind a tree. cougar jumps on his back, victim manages to scare cat with pistol shot.
Whitewood, Sask Nov 21 Cougar blamed for attacking pigs.
Saskatoon Dec 7 Mangy coyote roams city parks.
London, Ont Dec 13 Big black cat revisits Kipps Lane. Leaves tracks.
Prince George, B.C. Feb 1, 2008 Within a week officials shoot two cougars after one kills dog on porch and another kills dog in yard.
Vancouver Island Feb 9 Biker injured in cougar attack.
Brantford, Ont. Feb 18 Police spot big cat with six-foot stride travelling along sidewalk near apartment complex and thence along a Hydro line easement.
Prince George, B.C Feb 20 Cougar shot ...believed threat to kids and dogs.
Prince George, B.C. Feb 29 Another Cougar shot after killing llama.
Okanagan, B.C. March 6, Two cougar attack ranch dogs, are tracked and shot.
Frankford, Ont (10km north of Trenton) March 12, Large paw marks lead MNR to small animal kills 20km away. Hair-trap and trail camera set up.
Hamilton, Ont March 18, MNR says animal injured along 403 was a coyote and not a cougar . Cougar sightings have been reported along London's Hamilton Rd and Dingman Creek in firtst two months of 2008.
Okanagan, B.C. March 14 Duo of male cougars attack ranch dogs; are tracked and shot.
Brantford, Ont March 25, Outdoorsman tracks animal spotted by police back in mid-Feb, takes pictures of paw prints, and actually spots the long-tailed cat.
Carnduff, Alta April 4, Citizen shoots cougar in farmer's yard; incident under investigation.
Chicago, April 15, Slaying of Cougar inside city justified.
Port Franks, Ont May 6, Man spots cougar-like animal in resort village, and gets paw cast.
Markdale/Flesherton, Ont, May 4, Grey County woman tells MNR, cougar-like animal seriously injured her dog.
Plum Coulee, Man. May 11, Cougar photographed running through rural back yard.
Los Angeles, May 10 Bold attacks on young children results in tracking and killing of six coyote.
Port Hardy, B.C. Jun 5, Campers Beware!! Woman in a camping party, seeking privacy behind a tree, is attacked by a persistent cougar.
Phoenix, Arizona, June 24 Eaten alive: Cougar partially eats 55 year-old man near his mobile home.
Warwick, Ont. June 25, Big cat spotted along Lambton/Middlesex County border, near where a bear was seen last week.
Port Franks, Ont. June 30, Editor of GrandBendStrip newspaper tells the story of a resident routinely feeding racoons and a big cat in the resort village near Pinery Provincial Park.
Petrolia, Ont. July 4, Horse injured in paddock. Unknown animal inflics severe wounds on horse's front leg. MNR unsure whether a cougar or dog was responsible.
Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, July 11, Scary Encounter: Starving cougar approaches jogger and his dog in parking lot. Conservation officer called, and shoots cat.
Banff, Alta. July 10, Boaters get Photo of rare Bighorn sheep kill.
Spruce Grove, B.C. July 24, Cougars Stalk Hikers along park trails.
Moose Jaw, Sask. July, 31. Cyclist (and others) spot Cougar.
Morinville, Alberta July, 31. Homeowner shoots cougar out of tree, after wife is spooked getting the mail.
Litchfield, Connecticut, September 7, State officials doubt injuries to horses were caused by cougars.
Invermere, B.C. Oct 2, Cougar shot by conservation officers after it confronted three women walking their dogs.
Jackson County, Michigan. Oct 6. Horse killing attributed to cougar after latest of many sightings across Michigan
Saskatoon, Sask. Oct 7. Officers shoot cougar in Saskatoon residential neighbourhood.
Landcaster, Pennsylvania, Oct 10. Amish farmer claims he wounds cougar, follows it into woods where another one pounces on him. He stabs at it with knife and cougar retreats. Conservation officers don't believe his story, and subsequent evidence tends to confirm a hoax.
Port Franks, Ontario,.Oct 30. Sarnia Observer reports on inconclusive paw casts. Resident who feeds wild animals will try for better casts -and for pictures.
North Bay, Ont. Oct 29. On two recent occasions, cougars were spotted in city.
Pickering, Ontario, Nov 2. In separate incidents, a boy and a man spot cougar. Media & police alert schools, children and parents.
Welland, Ontario. Nov .Horse, believed to have suffered a cougar attack , put down by vet.
Peterborough, Ont Dec. 18 Cougar spotted in town.
Similkameen Valley, B.C. Jan 6, 2009 Man and dog attacked in backyard. Both recover from wounds; healthy cougar tracked and shot.
Oxford County, Ontario, April 2, Police spot cougar within 100 feet of rural home. Expert says it was not likely a cougar.
Meaford, Ontario, June 15, Restaurant owner spots golden cougar in rural area.
Barrie, Ontario, June 20, Area cougar develops a taste for veal.
Northern BC,   Jan 4, 2010, Mother and dog are heros in separate incidents of cougar attacks near homes.
Milford, Connecticut, Jul 26, 2011  Young (and apparently wild) cougar killed by vehicle on highway
had DNA of Dakota origins.

2 Comments:

At June 06, 2007, Blogger marco said...

Well Jim they are moving closer...not the middle aged woman but the cougar. Police were called to Byron baseline and Colonel Talbot to investigate screams. They saw a large non domestic cat run off into the woods. I'm sure were not far off an attack if they have come into the city. What can we do to protect our kids and pets.

Marco

 
At March 14, 2008, Anonymous Sarah said...

My mom spotted a big wild cat in our backyard two weeks ago!! I had no idea there were cougars or anything like this in London! We live in the Whitehills area! I guess she called the humane society but should she have done something else? Also we have heard huge disturbances in the backyard shortly before that...

 

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