Monday, April 15, 2013

Mountain Lion - The Ultimate Predator

Mountain Lion

I've never been lucky enough to observe a mountain lion in the wild but they're rarely glimpsed by anyone. Mountain lions are extremely reclusive being most active between dusk and dawn. The big cats live a solitary life, prowling from rocky ridges to deep canyons always fiercely protective of their precious territory.

This ultimate predator will wait patiently in a ponderosa pine tree then leap onto the shoulders of a mule deer and bite deep into the back of its neck near the base of the skull. The carcass is usually cached and the cat comes back to feed later. There are only two animals in our area that I truly fear, a bull elk during the rut and a mountain lion.

Hungry young lions, unable to secure their own territories, have become bolder around people and are taking more risks. Recently near here, a brazen mountain lion actually crept inside a home while its occupants slept and snatched the pet dog. Attacks on humans are extremely rare but small children, solitary hikers and joggers are the most vulnerable. As urban sprawl continues to invade the foothills, I'm afraid encounters with mountains lions will probably become more frequent.

10 comments:

  1. I've crossed them in the roads here. Glad I was in my car, because they were never playing it friendly. I hear about sightings every season. It's the highways that make it possible around here, winding through so much terrain.

    John at The Bathroom Monologues

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never been lucky enough to see one in the wild, they are mostly nocturnal here. I know they are around though because it's ideal habitat with plenty of mule deer.

      Delete
  2. I wouldn't want to run into one - finally, one of the advantages of living in the city!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess so. We try to be cautious if we're out on the trails with children early in the morning or late in the evening but I've never seen one in the wild.

      Delete
  3. What a patient predator! I'm intrigued by your second paragraph on how their territory has decreased, and how that affects their interactions with humans. Have you ever read The World Without Us? Highly recommended.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem is their territory has decreased and the old males are unwilling to share so the younger males are more desperate and take risks in the urban environment. Pet cats and dogs are most vulnerable but I think you have to be cautious with young children too.

      Delete
  4. I lived in Northern CA and Washington State and they were getting more and more common; mostly b/c houses were developed in the lions' habitat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, urban development in the mountains here has cut into their territory. Attacks on people are still pretty rare but it seems like encounters with mountain lions are becoming more frequent. You certainly have to be careful letting your cats or dogs outside at night.

      Delete
  5. You know, people talk about Australia having the most deadly snakes and spiders, but I'd rather run into a snake or spider than one of these! How scary.

    Rinelle Grey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mountain Lions are beautiful, wild creatures that have to be respected. Attacks on humans are extremely rare but we try to be smart and cautious. Hopefully we can learn to live with them without any issues and so far that has been the case here. I've heard lots of stories about Australia's deadly animals. Everything from snakes, spiders, and crocs to sharks, jellyfish and stingrays.

      Delete