Thursday, July 17, 2008

When the dogs go away...

...the cats come out to play. And do they ever. The dogs' departure has brought deer onto our turf and the cats are laying claim to it, too,

We are pretty sure it's what happened to Pooka, the chihuahua, Pearl, the kitty and many of the wild turkeys. Maybe even the chooks, though the way one of them was pulled through the fence points to some other kind of culprit. And now that Magique and big tubby Kai and skittish Pepper are gone, The Ranch is slowly being taken over by the Big Cats.

We'd been seeing more big cat scat all over the place -- under one of the peach trees, along the main driveway, on our very scruffy lawn -- and then on Sunday...

"It was the biggest bobcat I'd ever seen!" I could hear Glass Guy's girlfriend R., telling Big Dog. "I heard a commotion from the orchard so I looked down and it had one of our chickens in its mouth!"

R. was convinced she saw a bobbed tail, but from the color and size, we all thought it was a mountain lion and R. just didn't see the full tail. Whoever heard of a lab-sized bobcat, anyway? Then, when the howling started, we all knew it was a mountain lion.

"They sound like humans screaming 'no!' or 'oww!' only multiplied by a hundred," said Glass Guy who went up on YouTube to check out animal sounds and discovered that the eerie screaming banshee was a mountain lion in heat. It was coming from near the creek where I spotted a mountain lion last summer. "We're freaked out. Mating will bring more males out here and R. is afraid to go outside the house by herself."

"They'll only eat things smaller than themselves," Ranger Lady told me earlier this week. She and her man, who had moved to the next town, were at the ranch to return keys.
"But you see them attacking giant deer," I said.
"They measure from their nose to their tail. So you and I would be lunch."
Oh. How comforting.

The boys are talking of shotguns and rifles. The patriarch from the next ranch, which also lost a kitten, told Big Dog, "well, if a mountain lion just happens to get shot, no one will mind..." and Glass Guy has already bought a pellet gun. We can hear him practicing every evening. But I like that we have all this wildlife and believe mountain lions have more right to be here than we do. What we need are more dogs, not guns!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask your ranger friend, who was playing with you I suspect, when was the last time anybody was killed or even hurt by a mountain lion? The ladder you used to caulk the wall was far more dangerous.
This fear we have of the natural world will be the death of us. Trying to sterilize the world from microbes to lions will come back to bite us in the bum. We need them. Mountain lions and all. Live and let live. Of course moving a few bats on is part of the scheme. There's push and shove in nature.
See if you can reduce the testosterone levels of those boys with guns.

10:41 PM  
Blogger bad-dog said...

Thank you for that!
Actually, there are always a few people who are mauled (to death?) by big cats in California, but you are so right about our culture of fear. Especially the US media!!

6:14 PM  

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