Big Cats in America

I found a recent Washington Post article interesting: Mountain Lions Move East, Breeding Fear on the Prairie. Many new realities are suprising. Some are historically important worldwide like the fall of the Berlin Wall. Others are not as significant but still something I would have thought extremely unlikely such as the return of Cougars to a wide range of the United States. I would have thought big cats would be found only in Zoos and in the remote West and in East Africa, of course.

I suppose I shouldn’t be so suprised since for years I have heard we have far more deer today than ever before. Still I would not have predicted the wide spread return of big cats we seem to have experienced in the last few decades. I don’t recall hearing about this before this year, when I started to read and hear about the increased human and big cat interactions resulting from the increased population of cougars (also known as pumas or mountain lions).

I would imagine we will have people overact when the inevitable problems are covered by the news media. “It is exceedingly rare for a mountain lion to kill a human being. In the past 110 years, the cats have attacked 66 people and killed 18 in the United States and Canada, according to figures compiled by Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources. Fatal attacks are far less common than fatal bee stings or lightning strikes.”

Related Links:
Big Cat Comeback? 2004
Cougar Reports on the Rise in Eastern U.S. – National Geographic 2003
Mountain Lion Foundation
Mountain Lion Attacks On People in the U.S. and Canada
Outdoor Hazards – shows the number of human deaths annually in California (100 deaths from automobile collisions with deer, 86 from lightning strikes, 18 from dogs, 1/3 fom mountain lions [1 death every 3 years])