February 07, 2010

Cougar Alert!

Recent Cougar Sightings! In A recent article and through our children's school, we have been alerted to a cougar in the area.  This is where I would usually breakout the jokes about my wife wearing spandex leopard print tights out in public again, but with running it really has changed a lot mentally for me.  A-la-Jack Tripper's neighbor Lana, or AL Bundy's Wife.
I think it is the time lately where I thought, "What would I do if a cougar attacked me?".  Someone told me, I wouldn't know it was stalking me, since they do it on nervous forest creatures all the time.  In my head, I think I truly believed there would be background stalking music or something, so I would steel myself to be in fight mode.  What  I learned was that its the back of the neck which would be its favorite spot to attack.  I did imagine myself grabbing a sharp stick and gouging its eyes out, or choking it to death.  A good kick to the head would also do it, in my mind.  But lets be honest, I would probably panic and flail around till I bled out and had my throat ripped out.
So what to do?  They are nocturnal creatures, with an affinity for stalking animals, with deer around here being the meal of choice.  Joggers would most likely scare them, but what if not???  I usually have run along our water channel along a hike bike path, A perfect place for a carnivore picnic.  Im not stopping running, but now I am unsettled in my mental space, which I need!
Facts about cougars:
  • The cougar, also called mountain lion or panther, is Canada's largest cat. Cougars have long tails which may be one-third of their total body length.
  • An adult male cougar weighs between 63 and 90 kg (140-200 lbs), and a female cougar, between 40 and 50 kg (90-120 lbs). The biggest cougars are found in the interior and the Kootenays.
  • The cougar's primary prey is deer. It will also feed on wild sheep, elk, rabbits, beaver, raccoons, grouse, and occasionally livestock.
  • Cougars are most active at dusk and dawn. However, they will roam and hunt at any time of the day or night and in all seasons.
  • During late spring and summer, one to two-year old cougars become independent of their mothers. While attempting to find a home range, these young cougars may roam widely in search of unoccupied territory. This is when cougars are most likely to conflict with humans.
Do I take a knife with me?  Mace?
Some tips I have gleaned:
  • Never approach a cougar. Although cougars will normally avoid a confrontation, all cougars are unpredictable. Cougars feeding on a kill may be dangerous.
  • Always give a cougar an avenue of escape.
  • Stay calm. Talk to the cougar in a confident voice.
  • Pick all children up off the ground immediately. Children frighten easily and their rapid movements may provoke an attack.
  • Do not run. Try to back away from the cougar slowly. Sudden movement or flight may trigger an instinctive attack.
  • Do not turn your back on the cougar. Face the cougar and remain upright.
  • Do all you can to enlarge your image. Don't crouch down or try to hide. Pick up sticks or branches and wave them about.
If a cougar behaves aggressively:
  • Arm yourself with a large stick, throw rocks, speak loudly and firmly. Convince the cougar that you are a threat not prey.
  • If a cougar attacks, fight back! Many people have survived cougar attacks by fighting back with anything, including rocks, sticks, bare fists, and fishing poles. 
For now, I will run on the highways, where it is better lit, running on the hike bike only when it is int he daylight hours, Today, It started dark, so I started ont he highway and came home on the hike bike trail. Safety first that way.  
Have you come across some potential threats to your safety?  


The Emerging Runner said...

I worry about all sorts of things on the trail but fortunately the biggest threat in terms of animals are people with untethered dogs and crazy mountain bikers. You may want to take a small but loud air horn on your runs. I'd imagine a blast from that would scare most animals.

Chad said...

Wow! Thats a really good idea. I think I have seen them come in pretty small sizes, too. Thanks for the response, ER!

alroadrunn3r said...

shikies!! All I have to worry about here is the occasional armadillo! :-)I agree... Air horn is a good idea!

Ewen said...

I was thinking about them all the time when running in the US (well, except in downtown San Diego).

All we have to worry about here are angry kangaroos and domestic dogs!

Chad said...

alroadrunn3r , I like the theory of scaring them, but I wonder if startling htem with an airhorn would make them attack.?

Chad said...

Hey Ewen!
I hear Kangaroos can be vicious!
And cougars are not what you are looking out for, its the tranny prostitutes with guns! Different level of alert in San Fran :D