Mark Kayser at grandviewoutdoors.com reports that America’s mountain lion populations are doing well. Maybe too well. “Last November, the Arizona Game and Fish Department implemented the first phase of a three-year plan to transplant sheep from the Yuma area into the Catalinas, an area they once thrived. Approximately $150,000 was spent on the project . . . and 431 collard sheep had a new home. Four months later 15 of the bighorns had been killed by mountain lions that obviously dominate the area.” The mountain lion population of Custer State Park in South Dakota is also thriving, doing what mountain lions do . . .
Once coveted as a trophy-elk area for resident-only hunting, the herd has crashed in recent years. The evidence was clear, but became crystal clear after several attempts to tranquilize and collar elk for research. In three incidents tranquilized elk, with crew and helicopter in close proximity, were attacked by mountain lions. In one batch of 30 collared calves, 16 became cougar cuisine.
OK, so mountain lions in South Dakota eat animals that humans like to hunt, reducing income for local guides and outfitters. Animal rights activists couldn’t care less. It’s their habitat, not ours. Wyoming lions? Take a hunter safety course. As Kayser points, California is ground zero for the controversy over mountain lions, where the big cats have developed a taste for labradors [see: above]. The official reaction (quoted at latimes.com)? Sh*t happens. Deal.
It’s not unusual to see mountain lions capture heavy prey, said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“It’s kind of sad, but I’ve seen 100-pound deer dragged up a tree. Mountain lions are unbelievably strong, stealthy predators,” he said.
Hughan recommended that people not let their pets wander around outside and that they not leave pet food out, making for an easy target.
“People have an inherent responsibility to keep track of their pets,” he said.
Pet owners can also turn yard lights on at night to keep the large cats at bay.
“Lions are afraid of people. Ninety-nine times out of 100, they’ll run away. They fear what they do not know,” Hughan said.
Ricky Whitman, vice president of community relations for the Pasadena Humane Society — which provides animal control services for Glendale — said living close to nature is a double-edged sword.
“Part of the joy of living there is the proximity to wildlife, but tragic things can happen,” Whitman said.
I know, right? The problem here is that tragic things are happening to humans, too. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife website reports 13 verified mountain lion attacks on humans from 1986 to 2012, three of which were fatal. In a note under the stats, the Department goes to some length to blame humans for the attacks and downplay the danger.
Note: According to historical reports, four additional fatal incidents involving six victims occurred around the turn of the previous century. Furthermore, two additional incidents have been reported by the media as attacks. However, they do not fit the criteria of verifiable attacks on humans and were not confirmed. One incident involved a turkey hunter who was camouflaged and calling for turkeys when a mountain lion approached from behind. Immediately after the mountain lion confronted the hunter and realized that the hunter was not a turkey, the lion ran away. This is not judged to be an attack on a human. Every indication suggests that if the hunter had not been camouflaged and calling like a turkey, the mountain lion would have avoided him. The other incident on the Los Padres National Forest was described as a mountain lion attack on a boy near a stream. However, the alleged injuries were not verified by a physician, law enforcement officer or CDFW personnel.
So, time to authorize mountain lion hunts? Regardless, home carry people. Home carry. In an appropriate caliber, I might add.