Thursday, 27 October 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 23: Cougar

I was so so close to seeing my first Cougar this evening.

Tonight's bike ride was exciting and a little scary at the same time. The bike ride started off as usual with a quick stop at the creek to see how the salmon are doing and to see if a bear might show up. I heard a lot of dogs barking up on the hill behind some homes not far from the creek so I knew a beer must be in the area. It was cold this evening so after a short while I gave up waiting because it was also getting dark and I had a fair ride home ahead of me. Just before I left the creek I got talking to a local who said that the local cougar has been spotted by four people earlier that day very close to a young deer. I did think for a second that maybe heading that way at dusk might not be such a good idea but curiosity led me down the trail.
I peddled pretty quickly passed the field where it had been spotted glancing every now and again behind be and into the field. For some reason Cougars don't usually attack adults but they have a thing for cyclist. Maybe they get a kick out of pouncing on a moving target rather than someone walking.

Anyway once I got passed the area I noticed some wet paw prints along the trail and stopped for a few minutes to check them out. It was then I saw some fairly fresh Cougar scat and a series of wet paw prints heading along the trail, see below. The scat and paw prints were identified using "The Canadian Rockies Guide to Wildlife Watching by Michael Kerr". A book I thoroughly recommend to any keen wildlife spotter.

I decided not to hang around for long and took these quick snaps on my iPhone to document the sighting.

This was the exciting part of my ride. The nest is well, not so fun. About 50 meters or so along the trail after seeing the prints and scat my front tire went completely flat. I must have rode over some thorns. The tire went down so quickly that I nearly fell off my bike. Well you can imagine I wasn't too thrilled getting a puncture so close to the cougar tracks and also I was about an hour walk from home and it was already late and not far being very dark. The above photos were lightened hence the noise levels.

I decided I best call a friend and start having a loud conversation as to let any hungry critters know I am in the area and hopefully scare them off. 

It was a long lonely walk home and I fought pretty hard to not spook myself. I had a few moments when I saw dark shadows along the trail because as you all know from following my blog it is also black bear country.

Anyhow I made it home safely in one piece, tired and cold. Now I am just annoyed I have a flat to deal with.

Still it was very exciting nearly seeing such an elusive predator and hopefully one day I get to see it from a safe distance.

I have a website coming in the new year so stay posted.
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