Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cougar Bait




We live in the city limits of Puyallup WA in a residential neighborhood that has some remaining stands of trees but for the most part can be considered suburbia. Imagine our surprise to learn that there have been two recent cougar sightings in the very areas that my wife, myself, and many of our running friends run. Based on what we have learned running alone is probably the worst thing you could do.

So I guess that my morning run made me cougar bait. I was low on inspiration getting out the door this morning so I put on my Ipod, cranked the tunes and started my run. It was still dark so I was wearing my headlamp. Since I don't think cars and ipods mix I took to the trail around a local lake and then out another closed road up to the area of the first reported sighting. I then headed off road again across the college campus and along the remote closed road that winds through the forested area between the campus and the lake.

Michelle mentioned the cougar sighting in her blog as well and got a very informative reply from Mehgan which follows:

I'm a self-proclaimed mountain lion expert. I've seen 2 lions while trail running/hiking. One followed my dog and I for several miles.Some things I've learned from the real experts:

1. Lions hanging out in developed areas are the most dangerous kind. They are typically either juveniles who've been kicked out of their mother's territory, trying to figure out the ways of the world and experimenting with food choices, or old males and females looking for easy bites to eat. Lions are innately reclusive, so when the behavior deviates from this, it's not particularly safe.

2. Many attack victims never see the lion prior to the attack. Lions stalk and attack their prey. If you glimpse the lion while you're out and about, it's less likely to actually attack you.

3. If you see a lion, though, make lots of noise, look big, and act agressively towards it. Make eye contact with it, stare at it. And, by all means, don't run or make fast movements (movements that resemble prey behavior). Generally, they just run away when they realize what they've gotten themselves into.

4. Carrying pepper spray or something like that isn't really necessary with lions. If they attack you, you probably won't know it until they are on you. Then it's just a physical battle. Lots of people have survived attacks by fighting like hell.

5. If the sighting continued to be in a concentrated location, it likely means there is something around that area that the lion likes/wants/is trying to get (house cats? dogs?). If the sightings spread out over a larger area, then the lion is just roaming around. If the sightings stop, the lion has likely moved on, realizing there's nothing god around. No lion will willingly make a developed area its permanent territory.

6. It really is safety in numbers when it comes to lions. Though they have attacked people in groups, you are much less likely to get attacked in a group than when you are while alone. Attacks on groups of people seem to occur when the group is spread apart, not tight together.If it were me, I'd exercise a few days patience and see how it pans out. I'd continue running with company only during this time.

If the sightings stop in a few days, you're likely safe to proceed on normally.After my scary mountain lion encounter, I was afraid to be alone out running/hiking for the longest time. Living in fear really sucked, though, so I decided I needed to move on and use the same amount of caution I use with any other hazard. So scary, good luck! Thinking of you!Meghan www.running-blogs.com/meghan


You have to watch out for these type of cougar attacks too! http://www.cougardate.com/cougar/main.html







13 comments:

Backofpack said...

No more ipods for you, my boy! You want to be able to hear the rustling in the bushes.

I gotta say, I'm glad Steve will be there to protect you at night at WS! Hope he's practicing his kick boxing/wrestling skills these days. I mean, it's the pacers job to keep the runner moving, right? So he distracts the cat, and you run like hell. Don't worry, Steve is fast, he'll catch up with you...

Dori said...

OMG, that's too funny. Between this and your previous post, I'm beginning to suspect that you may have too much time on your hands. Good luck with your race this weekend.

olga said...

Holly f*&%$# shit! Thanks to Meghan to point 3, that was what I tried to figure out too. Now I am petrified more than I was (if it's possible)! Run with me at CCC!!!

miss petite america said...

holy crap! that last vidoe made me spit yogurt up onto my screen!

Journey to a Centum said...

Olga won't call me her pacer at CCC. I'll be know has her Cougar Bait. I'm guessing she will make me run behind her and carry a big stick or some kind of martial arts baton:-)

olga said...

Don't know about stick, but you will DEFINITELY run behind me. Nobody runs in front of me when running with me! Not to mention the view you get to see is better than the view I would otherwise:)

Backofpack said...

Olga, Olga, Olga. Eric can't run with a blindfold on! How's he gonna see the trail? I guess he could leave the blindfold off if he promises not to look at the view...

robtherunner said...

Does this mean I've been excused from pacing duties? Hopefully the little kitty will disappear before Saturday when I head into the woods to hunt it down.

Journey to a Centum said...

Rob,

You are the lead cougar bait, I'm simply the fallback guy. I mentioned running pace for Olga once if she needed more than one pacer. She said she might want more than one pacer. I may get tapped to pace for another runner. If that happens then I'll talk to you and Olga to make sure it works for you guys and her plan.

Phil said...

I thought I had troubles watching out for poor drivers. I'm glad I don't have to worry about cougars. Good luck.

SherpaHerb said...

Great advise! May come in handy for Capitol Peak 50 miler, we occasionally see tracks around there but after logging many miles, no problems.

Anonymous said...

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