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Friday, September 16, 2011

Protect yourself with Knowledge

When I was walking our dogs this evening I ran into one of our neighbors. We have met some of our neighbors but they're not what I'd call sociable. (I don't know why) It could be our busy lives and it could be our family. Not everyone enjoys the noise of screaming children or the drama that can sporadically happen around here. The quick conversation I did have was the worry of the continuous cougar sightings and the fresh findings of deer carcasses in our area. Our neighbor proceeded to explain to me every time they hear our children playing (screaming) outside that their noise attracts cougars. I thought it was the opposite; their screaming and our large number of children would keep any animal away. So I decided to do some research. Did you know that Cougars are most active at dawn and dusk? Some of our children are enjoying walking to the bus stop in the morning and cougars hide quietly in the long grass and brush. In our area there is livestock, horses, many small rabbits and dogs. I found out that it's fact, squealing children will attract a cougar.  Years ago when I ran religiously after dinner, I was always afraid of running into a cougar. When I hiked Cape Scott, we were followed by a cougar through the sand dunes, where the grass lands circled us. (I took pictures of the cougars fresh tracks) Cougars are extremely intelligent, quiet while hunting their prey and they're fast during their attack. There was a point in my life where being afraid stopped me from running and hiking. I quickly learned that educating myself about whatever I was afraid of stopped my fear of cougars. Not only did I educate myself, I brought artifacts into our home of cougars so I was always aware of the fear I did have. (Everything in our home has a meaning behind it) So now while the cougars are being spotted, I'm not afraid but cautious. I also know that they're here because there is plenty of food but normally they'll move on quickly. Here is some pointers if any of us encounter a cougar.........(1) give them a way to escape. (2) Don't run. Talk loudly, firmly and face the cougar. (3) Convince the cougar you're not an easy prey, wave your arms, your jacket and appear larger. (4) Protect smaller children. (5) If you're attacked, try to stay standing - cougars attack the neck and head. Fight back..... Trimming your property will help and add outdoor lighting. For us, trimming won't help but extra lighting might. I've also heard if we make scarecrow figures and change them frequently that this might help scare off cougars. (??) (Perhaps I just need to stand out there with back combed hair!) Regardless I'm aware we live amongst them. We also have black bears. We can't put out our garbage until just before the garbage collectors arrive because they've chewed off our garbage can lids. Like anything, we just have to educate and be aware; then we all can live together because after all, we're in their homeland. Most importantly educating our children is foremost. Knowledge is the key for everything, including the wildlife we live with.

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