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The personal journal of technology journalist and conference speaker Randall S. Newton.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Large Cougar in Loomis Seems to Have Lost Fear of Humans

I've just returned from a week+ on the road, attending first COFES 2005, then the FIATECH Spring conference. They were both great conferences. I'll be writing this week for AECnews.com and this blog from my notes, as relevent to each forum. But I want to share the following while it is fresh in my mind.

Just as I sat down at my desk this morning, I got a call from our neighbor Lisa, across the road. She said that yesterday a large cougar was seen crossing the road from our farm toward her property, around 8 a.m. It was spotted by the local game warden, happened to be driving by. He said (according to Lisa) that it was the largest cougar he had ever seen. As it crossed the road, according to Lisa's retelling, the tail was at the center line and his nose was at the painted line on the road's edge. My cousin-in-law Teri had just jogged past, Lisa said, so the game warden got her attention and she made a beeline home.

Teresa was home yesterday, and also knew of the cougar sighting. She talked to Bart, a local rancher who has hunting dogs and has a license from the state to hunt rogue cougars. He walked across my farm, but the dogs didn't pick up cougar scent.

Let me put some perspective on this sighting. It was around 8 a.m. At 7:30 a.m. all the kids in the area were on the road waiting for the bus. Some of them (including my six) were less than 50 yards from the cougar's path.

Cougars are generally night hunters; daytime sightings happen, but are less common. But for a cougar to be prowling our neighborhood in broad daylight is not a good thing, especially one so large. I live in a remote area far from what most people would consider civilization, but we are part of a community here. I can see perhaps 15 houses from my office window. There are plenty of kids, let alone all the pets and livestock. This sighting is a reason for genuine concern. If a mature cougar has lost its natual fear of humans and is hunting in our yards, he needs to be dispatched. No one around here has to be reminded of the Mom in Princeton, BC (about 60 miles from here) who was killed about five years ago trying to save her small child from a cougar.

Cougars are territorial, and only one can live in any given territory. As the cougar population expands, some cougars move from the high country and into human territory. I am all for conservation and protecting endangered species, but I don't think putting people in mortal danger for the sake of one rogue cougar is acceptable.


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