Back from the wrong coast, I was excited to sit down and listen to everyone’s favorite WNPR host talk about the woods–because I love forests of all kinds and after our adventure through Yosemite, I love them even more. But then they said the words I fear most: mountain lion.
Yes, they talked about the rumored existence of mountain lions in Connecticut. I once saw a porcupine out near Salisbury and was absolutely thrilled by the experience. I get excited about bear, and fisher cats. Lord knows I lose my mind at a good Montauk Monster sighting. Thanks to my beloved Barbara Kingsolver and Prodigal Summer I’m convinced I am related to a lynx (or its Connecticut cousin, the bobcat):
“What are they like, lynx?” She tried not to sound like a jealous child.
“Oh, baby, there’s a cat you’d love. They’re just like you.”
He grinned, thinking about it. “About three parts pissed off to four parts dignified. They’re gorgeous. If you find one caught in a trap line and let it go, it won’t scramble around and run, nothing like that. It’ll just stand there glaring at you for a minute, and then turn around real slow and just strut away.”
And while the treehugger and adventurer in me would love to see mountain lions back in the state, the rest of me is terrified.
Here’s the thing: big cats scare the shit out of me, mostly because I live with two of their smaller relativess and I know what cunning, spiteful creatures they can be. I’ve lived with felines since the day I came home from the hospital as a baby, and I can say with conviction that I do not want to come across their much larger, more muscular cousins while walking alone in the woods. (If I had a friend I could at least sprinkle him or her with catnip, toss them at the cat, and find a vacuum to scare it off with.)
So, after I heard Colin’s show today, I immediately Googled “mountain lions in CT” and found some articles that kind of makes me want to move back to NYC. A story from Connecticut Magazine by Brigitte Ruthman was chief among them:
I saw one not long ago in the stillness of dusk in Salisbury, a honey-brown feline poised just inside a tree line at 80 yards. On its haunches, it had the look of a small deer, perhaps one of the three I had seen earlier advancing on a curl of mist. It held me in its gaze as intently as a house cat watches a bird feeder from the other side of a windowpane.
I would pee myself.
I don’t worry about bear much, though I know it’s very likely one is lurking in the woods behind my house. Black bear are like big dogs, for the most part. I’m not gonna rush out and try to wrestle one or a pet a cub any time soon, but if I met one in the woods I think I’d survive it. I’m not so sure about an encounter with a mountain lion.
Bears are kind of labradors: big, bumbling idiots just ambling along in the woods. If you run across one in the woods it’s probably just an accident. But you could be a few feet from a mountain lion and never know it’s there. Cougars are stealthy, cunning creatures with the kind of speed and agility a bear could only dream of. You could be dead before you even see the cat.
I drove home this evening through the back roads of Fairfield County, which are not exactly hotbeds of wildlife activity. I do see a lot of deer, though. After reading the Connecticut Magazine article and learning about drivers who’d seen mountain lions chasing deer across the road, I could not help but wonder if I would be lucky enough to have such a sighting. That was before I read this comment on the story:
spottied in killingworth/haddam areai was having dinner at a friends house in killingworth, right on the haddam line between rt 148 and rt 82 when he told me that his neighbors german shepard had dissappeared a few days prior, they found the german shepard(120 lbs), dragged into the crook of a tree (dead of course), the next day. two days later my friends wife saw a mountain lion in her back yard while she was looking out the window doing dishes. bobcats and fishers are not strong enough to drag a large dog into a tree , they r here, so be careful.