Posts Tagged ‘mountain lion’

New England Lion

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

A mountain lion (puma concolor) was struck by an SUV near Milford, Connecticut in June. DNA samples showed it had come from South Dakota! Pretty wild. Folks have been spotting and tracking lions in New England for years. They used to be native to the northeast before all the development.

Felis Concolor

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

felis concolor, mountain lion, male

The mountain lion.

I recently revisited a wonderful show I used to watch when i was ten years old. My housemates five year old son was sick at home watching “Felix the Cat” cartoon episodes on the couch. Remember that? That cat was tight. Whenever he got in a fix he would reach into his bag of tricks. Non-cartoon cats however, like the mountain lion, need our protection. Protection from whom? From us humans, our technology, and our often non-moral or unaware use of it.

A neighbor caught an image of a massive male lion on a trail camera back in January. He was completely ripped, muscles bulging out from beneath the skin. I went out in search of him and eventually came upon his fresh trail down by the creek below my home. I came back to the creek in the following days and each morning there would be a fresh trail. I wonder if this means he had a kill in the area that he was hanging by and feeding on. The third time i came back there were two trails walking tandem along the water.

can you feel the Love tonight?

I figured it was a mating pair and not just two trails that happened to be alongside each other. They were made at the same time, the print dimensions of one was significantly larger than the other, and they were walking in tandem, like holding hands in the park tandem. The size difference was incredible. The female was way smaller than the male. Small, delicate and soft compared to the angular, large, male prints.  Perhaps its difficult to see in the picture but in the photo above the male trail is the on on the right side of the photo, starting in the bottom right, and the female is the trail on the left side of the photo, starting bottom left. Both are moving away from the camera in what trackers call an “alternate walk”, or your most basic relaxed right, left, right, left kind of walk. Like we would walk from the kitchen to the bathroom except with animals there are four legs involved. It’s kind of difficult to get a size comparison looking at the photo, but the male measured close to an inch larger than the female.

right front and hind

Mountain lions are solitary and are only found together during a few weeks in winter when mating occurs. At least it happens once a year. This is unfortunately better than some of us can attest to.  Mountain lions are one of the most widespread carnivores in America, ranging all the way from the Canadian Rockies to the snowy mountains of South America. Of course they are all called different names in all the varied places they are found, some of them being, cougar, catamount, puma and probably all kinds of cool Spanish names. I read in this one book that they are even different sub-species in each location, labeled accordingly with a third Latin name. Of course they are physically, noticeably different in the different regions they are found. The Florida puma has what we call a “roman nose”. It kind of bends out like an Italian person in comparison with lions from California or some other location.  Although called a lion, they are not as similar to the African Lions as they are to a Panther or Jaguar. They are solitary and don’t hang out in prides, and they hunt from stealth and sudden attack as apposed to group predation.

The photo above is that of the males front right print (bottom track) and the rear right print (top track). It’s an interesting feeling when you see the tracks of an animal that could end your existence, walk on top of your tracks from the previous day. There’s kind of this moment of connection like, ” Whoa, a lion just stepped on top of my tracks.”  Then you feel all proud.  I heard from a naturalist friend once that on average us humans all walk within ten feet of a mountain lion without even knowing it. That is if you live in lion country. This isn’t really that hard to believe when you start to learn about these creatures. They are incredibly stealthy. They are nocturnal. And they don’t enjoy being seen. So during the day they are layed out beneath a bush, sleeping the day away, keeping one eye open as you and your friends hike past, talking about your recent stock bonds.

I went out with a lion biologist once to see the kind of work he did. We hiked around the rim of this canyon for an hour trying to locate with radio telemetry this female that was, according to the technology, quite close. We were about to give up when we looked back to where we had come, only to see her zoom out of this stand of brush that we had walked just twenty feet from 30 minutes earlier. What other things in life do we walk twenty feet away from without ever knowing of it’s existence?

sunset from porch, life is beautiful