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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

As I have come to see with the dozen or so Pumas living in the greater Los Angeles basin, these big cats make every effort to skirt through human dominated landscapes annonymously............In Washington State, the 2000 estimated Pumas are also "ghost cats", with most people never realizing that they often pass minutes from major population centers like Bellingham "cloaked" from our sensory antennae........ California has demonstrated for 50 years what head biologist Rob Weilglus of Washinton State's Large Carnivore Lab has long stated----If we do not hunt and persecute Pumas, social order is maintained in their ranks via older dominant males keeping juvenile males in line and thus(the juveniles) not taking risky chances attacking livestock and people

Cougars and people coexist
 much more than most realize


Fish and Wildlife biologist Rocky D. Spencer examines a three-year-old, 130 pound
 male cougar at Northwest Trek in Eatonville, Wash., in 2001. The animal was
 tranquilized near the park and was later released in a remote area.

The cause of death for the cougar found at Squalicum Beach may remain a mystery, but it does provide us with a few clues about cougars and their behavior. Cougars use greenbelts, corridors, and riparian areas to move within their home ranges, even those immediately adjacent to residential development and yet they rarely make the news. The fact that this cougar was not spotted or reported until it was found dead shows us that peaceful coexistence is happening and it's happening just minutes from downtown Bellingham.
Even though we have an estimated 2,000 cougars in Washington State, a vast majority of people will never see a cougar in the wild. A cougar's livelihood depends upon them being secretive and the ability for cougars to conceal themselves is critical for acquiring food. A cougar must approach its prey unseen and undetected at a relatively close distance before launching an attack. If given the chance, a deer could out run a cougar, so it's all about the element of surprise.
Squalicum Beach may have been the quietest and least populated place this cougar had come across in a while. Plus, the greenbelt leading up to the beach is an ideal spot to prey upon deer and raccoon, but it is also a very popular place for joggers and bikers. The reality is that increased human population translates into an increasing number of cougar interactions with humans. Washington's human population has increased 30 percent since 1990 and it is expected to reach 8.2 million people by 2030. The most notable impacts this increase has is loss of wildlife habitat. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates approximately 27 kilometers of wildlife habitat is lost each year to human development, making corridors and greenbelts the only suitable habitat left for some of these large cats.
So what should you do if you encounter one of these elusive animals? "First and foremost," says Rich Beausoleil, bear and cougar specialist with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, "avoid any potential interaction by traveling together and making noise to let wildlife know you are approaching. Cougars and any other wildlife will avoid you at all costs." If you do have a sighting, stop, stand tall and absolutely do not run. If you have children or other people with you, stay together in a group because that makes you more intimidating. Do not break eye contact with the cougar. Remember, their livelihood depends on them not being seen, not being detected. Maintaining eye contact establishes that you are aware of their presence and may reduce the chance of the animal advancing. Make yourself as big as possible, yell and wave your arms and, without putting yourself in a vulnerable position, throw rocks and sticks at the cougar. By making yourself as physically imposing as possible, you help remind the cougar that you are not their typical prey. This will thwart off 99.9 percent of every encounter that takes place. For the fraction of a percentage of those encounters where the cougar still comes at you, fight back aggressively! People who have been attacked by cougars and have fought back have fared much better than those who haven't.
It is important to recognize where you live, work and recreate, and for many of you, that's in cougar country. When you are in cougar country, be sure to always be aware of your surroundings, be mentally prepared to potentially encounter a cougar. Don't be paranoid, just vigilant. Take off the head sets and put away the cell phones. Teach your kids how to behave when wildlife are encountered and don't let them wander too far away from adult supervision. Absolutely, positively, do not feed wildlife. If your are feeding deer, raccoons or other potential cougar prey you are indirectly inviting cougars over for a meal as well. Ultimately, expect coexistence. Just because you see a cougar at the edge of your property at dusk does not mean that cougar is, or will be a problem.
Cougars are a tough, adaptive, top-tier carnivore and they are extremely important to Pacific Northwest ecosystems. Habitat conservation, smart residential growth and increasing public outreach and education are the keys to the cougar's continued existence in a rapidly changing world. Cougars and people can and do coexist, much better than most of us realize.
Rose Oliver is the North Cascades field coordinator for Western Wildlife Outreach. For more information on what to do in your community or in the wild to lessen your chance of a negative encounter with wildlife, go online to

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