Category Archives: cougars

The River Sportsman

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In the town of Campbell River, above the banks of the Campbell River, is a wonderful sports shop called The River Sportsman. In one corner of the store you can sit almost on the river while you have a coffee and decide which fly rod you want to mortgage the house for.

Oi veh! My tongue is in my cheek as I notice the camo gear on the right. You may remember my post about camo gear. https://wordsfromanneli.com/2018/03/09/camo/

Inside the store are many samples of wildlife that have been mounted (taxidermed) – (stuffed animals). The lighting is very bright and the glass cases in which some of the mounts are kept reflect the light, making it difficult to get a good photo.

The first is a grizzly, which is not USUALLY found on Vancouver Island, although several instances are recorded of grizzlies who have obviously swum across from the mainland, most likely island hopping and making short swims to finally reach Vancouver Island.

This is not a particularly large grizzly, but I wouldn’t want to meet him just the same. Intimidating teeth and claws, in spite of his pretty smile.

Another bear we don’t have here is the polar bear. Of all the bears, I think he is the most dangerous and close to the size of the Kodiak (which, like grizzlies, are a subspecies of the brown bear). The largest polar bear on record weighed 2209 lbs. and stood 11 ft. 1 in. on his hind legs. The bear on this photo is nowhere near that record, but I wouldn’t want to get a bear hug from him.

Another animal we don’t have on the island is the Rocky Mountain goat. It makes a handsome addition to the zoo in the sports shop.

Now we come to the animals that are prolific on Vancouver Island. Cougars are all over the island. I can’t imagine why I worry about black bears  when I’m mushroom picking, when I really should be worrying about these cats instead. They are much more likely to attack a person than a black bear is, especially if that person is walking alone or with a small pet.

The sports shop is full of birds and mammals on the walls and in glass cages. One of the walls has a wolf mount, but I didn’t feel inclined to take its picture. Now that I’m writing about the prolific cougar, I’m wishing I had a wolf picture to place with  the cats. Wolves are also plentiful, especially on the northern part of the island. I have no illusions about what a wolf can do to a deer or a lamb on a sheep farm.

The visit to The River Sportsman was entertaining for me while my friend shopped till she dropped. Maybe they put these animals in the shops on purpose to keep customers in the stores. It seems to be working.

Big and Black

In the spring of the year, I’m always a bit nervous of letting my dogs, Emma and Ruby, out into the backyard in the early hours of dawn. I like to wait a little longer until more of the neighbours are up and around. Why? Because this is the time of year when we sometimes have visitors in the yard. Black bears have wandered through here several times over the years, and two weeks ago a raccoon was wrestling with my birdfeeder at 1:30 a.m. Cougar sightings are also the topic of conversation from time to time. Although I’ve never seen one in our yard, I’ve heard reports of them being very close by.

So this morning when my usually quiet Emma barked, I ran to see what was up. She seemed afraid to go near the fence and as she backed up,  she did her “I’m not afraid of you” bark. But her tail told the tale. She was afraid.

She was barking at something in the same place where, a few years ago, I had called one of our previous spaniels away from a black bear who was sitting just on the other side of the fence.

I hurried to call both dogs into the house and then went out to investigate.

Later, I made her pose for this picture, but she still kept her eye on the fence.

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I scanned the woods on the other side of the fenceline, looking for raccoons, cougars, or black bears, and then I saw it. Sure enough it was a big black….

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At first I thought it was a tent, but on looking more closely, I assumed it must be a load of firewood, covered with a black tarp.

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Emma still isn’t convinced that it won’t do her harm.

Dawn – What a beautiful name

I had to get up at 4:45 or so because Emma said so. I could have stayed in bed and then cleaned up the mess that one distressed puppy would make, but it wouldn’t be fair to either of us. Just look at the beautiful dawn I might have missed.??????????

 

I’d heard from my neighbour that there was a cougar in the area. Nice of him to warn me because of having the new puppy. I know hungry cougars like to snack on small family pets. It made me reluctant to get out there at their favourite hunting time, but right now Emma is calling the shots. And look at the rainbow I would have missed. It was a complete arc in the sky but I could only get part of it into the picture, it was that big. Faint but big!

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My sister-in-law’s name is Dawn. Today I thought her name was more beautiful than ever before. She suits her name.

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My reward for getting up so early was to see the golden light on the firs. At dawn and dusk I can see this view, but at dusk the sunlight is warmer, more golden. There must be a scientific reason for that, but I don’t know what it is.

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Now it was getting light enough to see my garden that I’ve had to let go to weeds this year. I’m blaming Emma, the all-demanding puppy.

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As I went back into the house, climbing Queen Elizabeth greeted me and told me what a cheery day it will be.

??????????I hope it was a good one for you too.

 

Prickly Personalities

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The north central states of the USA, such as Montana and the Dakotas, are farming country and often considered destinations for bird hunters. People come from all around to visit these seemingly desolate farmlands in the fall. Bird hunters bring their dogs. Usually they bring a pair of pliers too.

If you spend much time in these states with a bird dog in tow, one of these days you are bound to run into a cute little animal that is hated by nearly everyone.

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Excitedly, I told a farming friend one day, “We saw a porcupine this morning!”

“Did ya shoot it?” was the immediate response.

I had never seen a porcupine before, and I thought it was so cute. I just wanted to pick it up and cuddle it. I could easily have caught it. It wasn’t very fast. But I knew better. They don’t like to be cuddled. They have rather prickly personalities, and even pricklier fur.

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The quills in their coat are so sharp they easily stick in a person’s (or animal’s) skin. The points have fine barbs on them that make pulling the quills out quite a nuisance; hence the pliers. And no, we don’t shoot porcupines, but I scooped these quills from a dead one we found.

In the interior of British Columbia, where cougars are plentiful, the young adult cats who are newly on their own, often have a hard time catching their prey. They are still learning hunting tactics and finding out about the world around them.

I heard of one cougar who had to be shot after it lingered near town too often, trying to pick off house cats or little dogs. Upon examining the cougar, it was found that the poor animal was near starvation. Apparently it had tried to bite a porcupine and got a mouthful of quills on the inside of its mouth. It hadn’t been able to eat for a very long time for the pain of all the needles in its tongue and the roof of its mouth. Many quills had even penetrated the skin on the cougar’s chest and had broken off between the skin and the muscle, festering there probably for weeks.

A friend told me that his Labrador retriever had been quilled by a porcupine.

“I bet he never went near another one after that,” I said.

“Aw, no!” the dog’s owner said. “He was so stupid that the next time he saw a porcupine, it made him so mad that he attacked it and got another dose of quills in his face. You’d think he’d learn, but he just goes wild now when he sees them. Dumb dog!”

Porcupines are not mean animals. They can’t run fast, or bite, or scratch (too much). Their only defence is their body armour, their coat of quills. They simply want to be left alone to eat the leaves, twigs, and bark they love. Unfortunately that means that many trees are damaged and will die from being debarked. This makes them unpopular with the farmers who plant the trees as a windbreak.

These little animals don’t go out of their way to harm anyone, but they do have an excellent system of self-defence. Any person or animal who tries to handle a porcupine carelessly will receive a painful lesson they won’t soon forget (except in the case of the lab I mentioned above).

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