The moon has made the animals more active at night, my dogs are so frisky when I get up in the morning I can hardly stay out of their way.
One evening a couple of weeks ago my husband and I were bicycling home through lower Bidwell Park, when we saw a brown streak in that meadow off Bryant Ave. My husband remarked that it was the same color as deer but lower to the ground and ran different. He opined cougar, I agreed. Something has had my hair standing on end in the park lately, I felt it. And, my grandpa told me, wherever you see deer you have to be aware of cougar. His family had come from “Missourah,” so he called it, “puma.”
When we were little, my grandfather had a permit to haul gravel out of the Sacramento River at Princeton, which he would deliver by the truckload to people for their driveways. He kept a little tractor down in the woods behind the levee at Princeton, and we’d go down there with him when he had an order to fill. He’d always be on pins and needles, there’s so much trouble for children to get into down at the river. If we wandered out of his sight he’d jump off that tractor and come and cuss at us – “You got-damn kids, get back to the got-damn truck!” We knew he wasn’t mad, but we didn’t understand why he’d get so upset. Until one day, he came after us, white faced, out of breath, and took us back to a spot near the truck – “puma!” he shouted, in his funny high pitched voice, as he pointed at the big dog-looking tracks. Then he showed us – no toe nails. Dogs don’t get that big, he said, and they leave toe nails. He took us back and made us get into the truck, and I don’t remember if we ever went with him again down there.
Sure, cougar is beautiful, a symbol of the free west – but he’ll eat your six-year-old just as soon as he’d eat your poodle or your tabby. I’m glad I don’t have small children anymore, but I worry about my kids cycling through the park – I still remember that cat down south who made off with two mountain bikers before he was killed. He’d cached a full-grown man in the bushes, and was observed taking a woman off her bike. Another woman pursued and was able to rescue the first woman, but the cat had mauled her head, I don’t know what ever happened to her. A cat in Placer County killed and cached a woman jogger, leaving her mauled body partially buried along a popular running trail. The authorities thought she was the victim of a crazed human killer, until they brought in a forensic expert who identified teeth and claw marks.
As usual, I think the authorities are ignoring a serious situation – wow, Ann Schwab was all over the bag ban. Now she’s admittedly heard a cougar growling in lower park – is she going to wait until it attacks somebody’s six year old kid in broad daylight before she does anything about it? At the very least, the city should have huge signs, with big block letters, telling outsiders or people who have not heard, there’s a big kitty in the park, they need to be aware of their surroundings and who or what is in them at all times. The Sheriff’s and Police Departments should be making a bigger presence – ought to give them the opportunity to roust some illegal camps as well. More loud human activity, including trained dogs, in the park would make it a less attractive hunting ground for the big kitty.
No, I don’t particularly want a hunting, but a team of cops, fire and volunteers could phalanx the creek one evening and try to drive the cat out of Lower Park, with Fish and Game (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) manning the roads directly around the park. I don’t see that happening, given the sour relations between our police and fire. I’ve never seen either agency put forth any kind of community effort either.
One bright note – maybe the big kitty will get my neighbor’s chickens. I can dream.
Oh shut up Girls, I’m only joking!