Living with predators: mountain lions are thriving in the West, and that means close encounters with humans.Rosalind Wallace and Gretchen Roffler were both lucky and smart when they encountered a mountain lion mountain lion: see puma. in the remote reaches of Olympic National Park Olympic National Park
National park, northwestern Washington, U.S. Established in 1938 to preserve the Olympic Mountains and their forests and wildlife, it covers 1,442 sq mi (3,735 sq km); it includes a strip of Pacific Northwest shoreline geographically separated from the last summer. The two park employees did everything right. They stayed upright, always above the lion. They stood their ground and didn't even think about running. They looked the cat directly in the eyes. Most important, they made sure not to act like prey.
Wallace, who was surprised the lion was not larger, overcame her fear and made the first move: "We raised the pitch and volumes of our voices and took a small step toward the cat," she says. "He responded by crouching slightly, laying back his ears and hissing - showing us his very sharp teeth." Fortunately, the lion backed off.
Encounters (mostly sightings, actually) between humans and mountain lions, including some attacks, are on the increase throughout the West. It was once rare, among even seasoned hikers and backpackers, to come in contact with a mountain lion in the wild. Not any more. Unlike wild grizzlies The name Grizzlies may refer to:
, mountain lions are the most successful large predator in the western hemisphere Western Hemisphere
Part of Earth comprising North and South America and the surrounding waters. Longitudes 20° W and 160° E are often considered its boundaries. ."
Maurice Hornocker, the founder of the institute and, for the past three decades, the dean of mountain lion research, points to two reasons for their success in this age of vanishing ecosystems and species: The first, he says, is the resurgence of deer and elk, the main staple of any lion's diet. A second reason, says Hornocker, "is greater regulation of lion hunting. In Idaho, for example, upgrading mountain lions from 'vermin' to 'game' status helped tremendously."
We've come a long way from what biologist Paul Beier Paul Beier is an american lutenist. He graduated from the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Diana Poulton.
He is founding member of the Italian Lute Society, he is a consulting editor of the Lute Society of America Journal. calls the "persecution era," when mountain lions were shot as casually and with the same vicious compunction as are coyotes today. In a 1991 study published in the Wildlife Sociology Bulletin, Beier documented every single mountain lion attack in the western U.S. and two western Canadian provinces since 1890. Beier's study found nine fatal attacks and 44 non-fatal attacks for those 100 years, a fraction of the number killed by dogs - or even bee stings - each year.
California, which has about 5,000 of the controversial felines, banned all mountain lion hunting in 1990 with the passage of Proposition 117. "Five years after shooting every mountain lion seen, of course there's been an increase in numbers in numbered parts; as, a book published in numbers.
See also: Number ," Beier says.
Nonetheless, many hunters in California want to reinstate a mountain lion hunting season, trying, as in earlier times in the West, to portray the mountain lion as an aggressive stalker and vicious killer of humans. But these scare tactics haven't worked: On March 27, California voters easily defeated a ballot measure that would have ended the hunting ban.
Does hunting reduce lion-human interactions? Not necessarily, say scientists on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, where mountain lions have been hunted relentlessly, lions have accounted for 38 percent of all recorded attacks in Paul Beier's 100-year study. What's missing on Vancouver Island is not hunters with better aim, says Beier, but large populations of deer and elk.
Hornocker is even more blunt. "Hunting could solve the problem by annihilating an·ni·hi·late
v. an·ni·hi·lat·ed, an·ni·hi·lat·ing, an·ni·hi·lates
a. To destroy completely: The naval force was annihilated during the attack. lions completely. We need instead to educate people on how to live with lions." He points to human population growth as the real numbers problem: "All you need to do is fly to Los Angeles and see all the new subdivisions on the finger ridges" - critical wildlife corridors for juvenile mountain lions. "You must accept some risk by living in these shared areas," Beier says. "I accept that risk. I'm irritated that people who move in want to sanitize To remove sensitive data from an information system, a database or an extract from a database. See sensitive. the West."
In a best-case scenario, wildlife biologists say that mountain lions will learn to make themselves scarce, while we, in turn, take simple pleasure in knowing that such a magnificent indigenous animal is thriving despite human pressures.
CONTACT: Hornocker Wildlife Institute, P.O. Box 3246, University of Idaho The university was formed by the territorial legislature of Idaho on January 30, 1889, and opened its doors on October 3, 1892 with an initial class of 40 students. The first graduating class in 1896 contained two men and two women. , Moscow, ID 83843-1908/(208)885-6871.