Now I'm totally confused.
Recently, a friend living on the southern edge of Havre had a mountain lion hanging out on her backyard deck for two mornings in a row. A mountain lion. This is normally a shy mountain dweller, and now it's hanging out in the 'burbs of a prairie town like it's panhandling for morning coffee?
Local Fish, Wildlife & Parks warden Wes Oedekoven said that FWP has noted a slight increase in local sightings in recent years, but this simply may be from the spread of homes to outlying areas. Most likely, the mountain lions sighted have been young ones in search of their own territory and not hooligans looking for a little gang-warfare action.
Oedekoven suggested that, if people see a mountain lion, they should make themselves appear as large and imposing as possible and use a stern tone of voice to scare away the cat.
In the world of me, this means I should pose like Wonder Woman and talk like my grade-school principal.
Awesome! But, sadly, if I do see a mountain lion, I'll probably just stand there and stare in gape-mouthed disbelief.
Not a good plan, but still better than some.
One time when I was a kid, my dad, a Montana game warden, came home from a day in the woods in a tattered and bloodied shambles. He and one of the department's biologists had used a local hunter and his hounds to track down a mountain lion and her kittens. Their mission had been to tree the wild cats, tranquilize them with a dart gun and attach ID tags to their ears.
It had been a long day.
The mama cat was a wily one, the kittens had a lot of stamina, the going was rough through deep snow, and the hounds were relentless. None of this was the worst part.
The mountain lion and kittens didn't tree-up until late afternoon, so once the mama cat and two of the three kittens were tranquilized and tagged, Dad sent the hunter and dogs back to the their truck to get loaded up before dark.
This was mistake number one.
Dad, a marksman, couldn't get a clean shot at the last kitten, so the biologist started up into the pine tree with a tranquilizer dart to either scare it into a more open area or somehow administer the tranquilizer by hand. The plan was a bit sketchy.
It was also mistake number two.
The biologist's presence in the tree drove the kitten upward where the branches were too thin to hold a human and too numerous for Dad to aim through — clearly proving the plan to be a mistake.
While the two men debated their options, the kitten, as wily as its mama, made its own plan.
To the surprise of both men, the 30-pound kitten launched from the tree into thin air — the escape path arching above Dad's head. Its simple plan might have worked if the kitten hadn't misjudged my dad.
A big guy, Dad had once tried out for the Los Angeles Rams. He was, he always says, big enough, fast enough and strong enough, but not mean enough to be a professional football player. He was, however, definitely foolish enough to try catching that flying mountain lion kitten.
Dad said that night, all he had been thinking of was the hounds not being there to retree the kitten (remember mistake number one?), and he didn't want to lose it at that point. So, executing his own impromptu plan, he went for the kitten like it was a Hail Mary pass into the end zone.
Can you picture the scene?
This giant of a man leaping beyond the bonds of gravity on an intercept course with 30 pounds of wild cat. Each of them stretching through every fiber of their being. The man's straining reach finally meeting success as his fingers wrapped around that furry body, pulling it back with him to the Earth.
My great giddy aunt, what a spectacular display of poor judgment and a clean execution of mistake number three that was.
That night, as Dad threw away his tattered uniform shirt and cleaned his wounds, he said it was like trying to hold 30 pounds of raw fury. He'd pulled the kitten to his body as they fell and had a good hold on it when they hit ground, but its fangs and claws were free to wreck havoc. He couldn't keep hold of the kitten and contain its thrashing rapiers and get the tranquilizer dart from his shirt pocket all at the same time.
His only recourse was to use his 200-plus pounds to pin the kitten in the snow and wait for the biologist to laugh himself down out of the tree to administer the tranquilizer for him. I'm sure cussing was involved. Lots of cussing. Also, there was the bleeding.
Now I'm totally confused.
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