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Cougar Update

April 8, 2009

My wife, the Comely and Buxom and Easily Terrified and Suddenly Ailurophobic Boudicca, found what appears to be a print. It looks like something with four big toes pressed into the soft mud as it was rising up and jumping into a run. It's roughly the size of my hand.

I do not have small hands.

Being that I'm taking this whole thing way too seriously, I got down on my hands and knees and looked around the print. I figured that, with it being spring and the beast's toes having sunk into the mud deeply enough to leave prints like that, there might be some hair.

I found two definite hairs, probably three, and three more things that could be hair or could be grass. We also took several pictures, with my hand and with a ruler in the picture for reference. See, watching all those episodes of MonsterQuest and reading Cryptomundo, where the hosts and experts always tell you to put down something for reference when photographing curious "evidence" have finally paid off.

None of the aforementioned puke was left on the patio. There's a...residue, for a lack of a better term. I did find what may be claw marks on the edge of the patio, three of them, not exactly evenly spaced. We photographed that as well. Could be anything from incriminating claw marks to the results of a mindless jackass and his mower.

I'll be calling the NC Wildlife offices tomorrow. Apparently, they're very interested in this sort of thing and may be open to my sighting report. A friend of mine at work sent me a link where someone else sighted a cougar in 2007 near Jordan Lake, which is south of Durham. Something's beginning to shape up here. That's four people who have seen three cats in three different areas.

I keep peering out my back window, hoping to see packs of feral beasts. So far, I've seen a red-bellied woodpecker for my troubles.

UPDATE to the Update: This morning, while staring out my kitchen window, I saw a red-shouldered hawk kill something by the stream and then carry it off. So, while the cougar has yet to reappear (if it ever will), my nature viewing pleasure continues to go on.


Scope said...

See, and I'm still stuck on the whole "pumping station" you mentioned yesterday.

Does your area have a little watertower like in "Petticoat Junction" where 3 beautiful go swimming so the water tastes of taint?

(For the record, I know that water was for the old steam powered train, why do you have to ruin fantasies all the time.)

Have you tried to preserve the print? covered it with plastic? Whipped up some plaster to make a cast?

Sassy Britches said...

More and more intriguing every day. I think you shoudl lie in wait at night and spotlight them like the ya-hoos up here do to deer.

Gwen said...

Cougar Watch 2009: In full effect.

(I am giggling so hard at the image of you out there CSI'ing the scene. Also, please post pictures of the evidence you've gathered.)

Anna Russell said...

I think you should get camouflage gear on, greasepaint on your face and fashion and den from leaves and twigs before taking up cougar watch duty with a pair of binocoulars.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I'm so glad to see that Grissom is enjoying his retirement out in North Carolina.

Go get um' tiger!

Will Shannon said...

My recommendation?

Landmines. Lots of them.

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Very very interesting...

We have some strange prints in our backyard. Would you be interested in coming out our way and taking a gander?

Scope said...

In the name of all of that which you hold dear, if you capture the cat, please take THIS picture and post it on your blog.

You will NEVER forgive yourself if you don't, and you know it.

Cora said...

Awww, I was going to ask you if you went all Nancy Drew and made a plaster cast of the paw print, but Scope beat me to it. Grrr.

So, are you gonna?!

Joel D. Timm said...

Will's comment was awesome, I just spit my breakfast all over the laptop.

But seriously folks, there is a nice easy way to do this. They make these cameras that you can mount on trees. Sportsmen use them to scout hunting ground. My Dad has a few of them, and they photographed a bear in their hunting ground. Also in Buffalo Co. WI a camera mounted on a tree took a series of 3 photos this past one was of a deer standing, photo 2 was of 2 cougars eating the deer, and photo 3 was of a third cougar moving in for a snack.

They can be a little pricy, 200 or more, but if you know someone that likes to go into the woods and shoot things, chances are they might have a few you can borrow. They are motion sensitive and have a flash on them. Just set a few up, something walks past, and POW, download the chip in the morning, and there will be your proof.

coolred38 said...

Two comments:

Are you aware that if you actually prove there is a cougar in your might actually get shot and killed by some trophy hunter red neck...just a thought.

And where you wrote..."while peering out the window"...I read that as..."while peeing out the window"...and Im thinking...I heard guys peed off roofs etc...but out windows too...are there any limits to expressing male urine...sheesh!!!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Scope: I filter my water. I'm hoping activated charcoal is enough to remove taint-flavor from the water.

@ SassyBritches: Except, you know, deer won't respond with "What the hell...oh, hey, dinner" when you shine a light in their eyes.

@ Gwen: When we get them digitized (the camera is MIA...probably the damned cougar's fault), I'll post them. Plus, you can see how little regard I pay for my lawn.

@ Anna: is this different from any other night? Oh, right, I'm watching for a feline cougar, as opposed to the neighbors. Gotcha.

@ Will: Brilliant. That would take care of the weed problem in my yard, too.

@ Candy: Can I get you to say that last part again? This time a little more slow and perhaps with a slightly more husky voice? Thanks.

@ Mary: Can I get some milk and cookies for my efforts?

@ Scope: Only if I can get Candy to read it to me. Again.

@ Cora (and Scope, by proxy): I'm not sure about making a plaster cast. It's in a grassy area (we've had a lot of rain lately, thus making the ground soft), so I don't know how well the cast would transfer.

@ Joel: Welcome to my world from fall of 1995 to May of 1998.

Seriously, though, we've thought about getting a trail cam and hanging it somewhere in the yard. With the amount of wildlife that makes its way through, it'd be awesome. At the same time, though, I'm sure I'd get 95 pictures of the kids. Of course, I could send those along to my in-laws and my mother so that they'd stop bitching about not having any pictures...

@ Coolred38: Well, the cougar in the eastern part of the US is protected under the Endangered Species Act, so you'd be in deep shit if you shot one around here. At the same time, however, no one's going to believe it was there unless you produce a body. *shrugs* I don't know the answer to the first part.

As for the second part...I plead the fifth.

Girl Interrupted said...

RaaAwWwRrrrrr <--- my impression of a cougar

Thank you

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Girl Interrupted: No, no...thank you!

Jess said...

I still like the idea of the giant litter box, hanging a feather off your deck and maybe even some catnip.

Eric said...

Have you ever considered opening a bungee-jump park back there? I'll bet people spinning and bouncing around like meaty yarn balls would get the big cats out of the woods...

Nej said...

Motion triggered camera, 2 T-bone steads, and a few of those plastic rings from a milk jug. I've never met a cat that could resist a plastic milk ring!!! :-)

I want to see the pictures your neighbors took of YOU...crawling around in the yard, gathering evidence. :-)