My Feverish Cougar Fears

When we lived in Boulder a few years ago, we were very lucky to rent an inexpensive rickety house perched in the foothills. We felt like we were living in a huge treehouse. The views were awesome and the space was luxurious compared to our Brooklyn shoebox.

But the wildlife spooked the hell out of me. Bears feasted out of our trash cans, raccoons scampered across the roof during the wee hours, and field mice sought refuge in the winter. To a city slicker, it was like living on the set of Grizzly Adams meets Little House in the Prairie.

Then were was the never ending mountain lion alert. That truly was unnerving at times.

Now that we are safely returned to the urban wilds of NYC, we are fortunate to have friends that have a country spread in a rural stretch of Connecticut, where we sometimes retreat to on weekends. The kids roam without fear of being run over by renegade pizza delivery guys on bikes going the wrong way. It’s blissful.

You know where this is heading, don’t you?

So in today’s NYT, David Baron, the author of Beast in the Garden (which I reviewed here in 2004–when I had no inkling I’d ever be living in the mountain lion’s backyard four years later), has an op-ed about the cougar making headlines this week, in which he writes:

Thanks to the South Dakota cat and its incredible journey, residents of the Eastern United States can now experience the fear and thrill that come with living below the top of the food chain. America has grown a bit less tame.

Great. I get to experience that fear and thrill all over again next time we’re in the Connecticut countryside. Thanks a lot, David!

7 Responses to “My Feverish Cougar Fears”

  1. Gaythia says:

    Keith!  If you put your table scrapes in your worm digested compost bin, and recycled everything else (like a well trained in sustainability type person); or, at the very least kept your trash indoors until collected, you wouldn’t have had these bear problems.  
    A fed bear is a dead bear.  See:
    I agree that raccoons are obnoxious, even if cute looking.  But mice?  Teeny field mice?  We’re talking sweet country mice here, not evil big city rats.  Again, food control is the solution.   And closing entrances to the attic and such.  All they are looking for is a warm place to spend the winter and something to eat.  Live trapping is an option.  I’ve found mice to be cooperative, but raccoons raise quite a fuss.
    For mountain lions: Children may need a little extra supervision (and in some places not take the lead on trails) but in general, having the little noise generators along and close by is quite helpful.  Remembering to announce your presence when alone on the trail is a bit harder.
    In Boulder, humans are widely considered guardians to their pets, (not owners).  Thus,  extrapolating to wildlife, just imagine the psychic impact of all this negative behavior towards wildlife on your shoulders if you don’t improve.
    Or, next time, you come for a stay, you could just pick a different sort of Colorado town, and open carry your gun.
    Are you implying that you think NYC is safer?

  2. Keith Kloor says:

    I was being a bit dramatic, for effect. We learned after the first few weeks that our best option was to put the garbage out the morning of pick-up.

    The Boulder mice were pretty clever, though. Or I was inept at catching them.

    The mountain lions, on the other hand, haunted my dreams.  

  3. edG says:

    Quite the incredible story about that cougar. So how did it get from Wisconsin to CT in one year?

  4. I’m with edG for a change.

    Are these stories being conflated somehow?

  5. Tom Gray says:

     If you put your table scrapes in your worm digested compost bin, and recycled everything else 

    A compost bin in an area with bears and racoons?   

  6. Gaythia says:

    Not an OPEN compost bin, one that could be in the basement or other interior site.

  7. Gaythia says:

    From a magazine picked up at my local farmers market today, I learned that what people in Brooklyn should be doing is raising chickens.  See:
    He lives with his wife and two chickens in Brooklyn, New York.”
    How long can it be until the mountain lions find out?

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