We may have a new visitor in the area… and not so welcome. About three weeks ago, as I let Angel out, I saw something trotting across the east yard and out through the second driveway. It stopped on the opposite side of the road, part-way up the hill, and looked at me. My eyes were watering so bad from allergies that I couldn’t get a good clear look at it, but it was nearly white (let’s say light tan), did not move like a dog, and was too big for a normal cat… and appeared to be a half grown cougar, judging by the tail. As I stepped out the door to confront it and get a good look at it, it disappeared into the woods across the road.
We have never heard anything that sounded like a big cat, but although unusual, that isn’t unheard of.
Night before last, Angel was looking out the front window and starting barking at something in the front yard, so I got up to go look. There were no lights on in the living room, nor outside, but the street light gives off plenty of light for the front yard, once your eyes become adjusted, which mine were not. I caught a shadow of “something” moving to the west in front of the circular rock garden in the middle of the yard, and by the time my eyes started to adjust to the half light and shadows from the trees, I saw the back end of it… with a long tail like a cougar just disappearing behind the bush in the front yard.
I started to grab my 6-volt flashlight/lantern, which I thought was by the front door. It wasn’t. By the time I found the other big flashlight and went out to look… it was gone… whatever it was. I shined my light out into the woods and even up into the trees, looking for any indication… eye reflection or fur… and saw absolutely nothing but trees. No sounds of any kind (leaves crunching was what I was listening for).
Whatever this was, it was too small to be a deer, and the tail was definitely not a deer. A neighbor on the street behind us has a huge white short-haired dog, the size of a sitter, but short haired dogs have skinny tapered tails, and sitter types have tapered “feathered” tails. What I saw in the front yard was a long tail about 30-inches long and about 2-inches in diameter, and definitely not tapered. It was very uniform along it’s length… exactly like a cat. Also, (this is the part that’s curious) it was larger than the first one that I saw. This could mean that “IF” there is a cougar out there, it could be more than one!
I checked on the web, and there have been confirmed sightings of cougars just across the state line in Oregon County, Missouri, which is also home to the most wooded section of Mark Twain National Forest, and just east of West Plains (which is in Howell County). Several places in Arkansas have claimed cougar sightings, including a couple in Fulton County (just west of us), so it would not be impossible for one (or more) to show up in this area. However, the state of Arkansas seems to be in denial of their existence, claiming that they know of no “wild” cougars in the state, and the few that have been found have been de-clawed… former pets that have been turned loose. Someone in west central Arkansas caught an image of one on a game camera, but it wasn’t clear enough to determine anything else. According to the site, there were as many as 150 cougars being kept as pets within this state (a scary thought in itself)!
CNN.com just ran a story about someone’s pet cougar in another state getting loose and killing the neighbor’s dog, but they claim it was because the dog came onto their property and the cougar was protecting it’s food dish. The video showed the owner petting the cougar, and you could tell the cougar loved it. Even wild animals can show love and affection… but they still have wild “tendencies”.
So “IF” we have a cougar (or more than one) running around these woods, I doubt if they would have any particular area to “protect”. Everyone says they don’t “normally” attack humans (although they do go after deer), but you can bet I WILL be stepping outside from now on when we let Angel out to do his business after dark!
And on that same day, I heard on the scanner that someone in Evening Shade got bit by a copperhead.
Great. Now all we need are for bears to make a reappearance in this area! Lions and snakes and bears… oh my!
That sheds a whole new prospective on whether to camp with the rear lifgate open or not!
Update: time: Near the middle of July. (Sorry, I forgot the exact date, as I am noting this today, August 7th, 2012, before I forget it). Around that time I heard on the scanner that someone indeed DID find a black bear, not even a mile away from us, here in the Cherokee Village. It was around bed time, so I didn’t stay up listen to the follow-up chatter, but the dispatcher said it was behind the caller’s pick-up truck on Odessa Drive, which is about half way from the highway to the town center and just off Iroquois Drive (175-Spur) that is the main drive into the Village from the south entrance.
P.S. Did you think I was kidding about the lions and snakes and bears? Gee, all we need now is a tiger on the loose! Then we can call the newly “en-couraged” tin man to go catch them……………….or not.