Working in a cougar's territory - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-22-2007, 02:28 AM Thread Starter
 
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Default Working in a cougar's territory

I've looked at some of the other threads regarding cougars. One thing I was wondering, is if there is any advice regarding doing fieldwork in low visibility, often vegetation dense, old growth forest on Vancouver Island in sites with very high probability of being in cougar's territory? (catch 22 -- standing tall is kinda hard when most time is spent studying/sampling forest floor)


I have found frequent cougar-like scat allong logging roads and research trails, have had reports/warnings from forestry personel working in the area, and one incident I could not locate the source of what wildlife was growling before I got out of there ASAP -- normally I do my part to give bears plenty of warning of my presence, but this critter wasn't leaving the area. Looking at the records, there has been 1 attack almost every year for the past couple of years in this area, the most recent being a few weeks ago in which the cat, which is still on the loose, took on a full sized man. Should I be concerned and should I be taking precautions? (if so, how?)
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 06-22-2007, 07:51 AM
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Aside from all the other precautions that is a tough question to answer. Cougars are just like any other preditory animal. If they think they can make a kill for food they will try it, if they are protecting their den or young they will defend. If they have a kill nearby or if you are in their territory they will defend it also. If they have been exposed to people and chased a few times they will avoid you. If you create a scent they like and they are hungry or have young they will bother you.
I think the worst ones to watch out for are the female cats that are trying to feed their young.

A big dog that barks but does not chase is an asset, but cougars on the island will kill and eat dogs which they like very much. As long as the dog doesn't chase them and stays with you the cougar will not try anything.
They are curious also and don't scare off so easy and will hang around the same area for days unless deliberating chased off in some extreme way.
Two or more people together will ensure they will not attack also.

Most people attacks that I ever heard of is mostly nonfatal and usually as soon as the cat confronts something their size that retaliates they turn tail.

There is not much more that I can add except having spray, bear bangers, big club or axe handy and keeping as alert as possible.

One other thing that may or may not be true. I think mostly true. They have the instint to chase and attack moving objects without hesitation than things that are not moving.
On that note things around your camp that are waving in the wind like a tarp and are moving continually attrack them just like a house cat. Many trappers in the old days trapped different types of cats from Lynx to Cougars simple by tying some grouse feathers hanging from a string above leg hold traps.
The feathers blowing in the wind would attrack the cats and they would come to investigate there by walking into the traps.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 06-22-2007, 11:29 AM
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quote:Originally posted by Wildman

Two or more people together will ensure they will not attack also.
The woman that was killed near Princeton in 1996(?)was killed after both she and her son fought the animal.
A couple hiking near Canmore a few years ago successfully fought off a small cougar that attacked them.
In the late 80s a child in Ahousat (near Tofino) was taken from a busy playground durring school recess.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 06-22-2007, 06:20 PM
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The attact on CP near Princton involved an adult mother and her small children. The children were the focus of the initial attact and their mother dismounted her horse to fight off the cat.

Groups of small children attract, rather than repel, cougars. There are numerous examples in Coastal BC of children on playgrounds becoming targets for cougars. One had to be shot two years ago at a local elementary school after it refused day after day to leave the playground.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 06-27-2007, 12:41 AM
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if I had a job working outdoors I'd defiantly be applying for one of these. not hard to get for work purposes.

http://www.cfc-cafc.gc.ca/online-en_...PDFs/680_e.pdf
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 06-27-2007, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
 
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quote:Originally posted by smac

if I had a job working outdoors I'd defiantly be applying for one of these. not hard to get for work purposes.

http://www.cfc-cafc.gc.ca/online-en_...PDFs/680_e.pdf
Cool! though I do love toys and "weapons", I just think of the all "te-he, oops!" that I've done with my caulks, bear bangers, and knives for collecting forest floor samples, and I realize that in this area, I probably wouldn't want to be increasing the risks (lol -- did you known bear bangers can be defective and turn around and blow up at your feet? and when wearing new caulks NEVER use your foot to scratch an itch on your leg because sharpend spikes will slice through rain gear, jeans, and skin in one swipe)
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 06-28-2007, 01:16 PM
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Shan:

Precautions, not much that you can actually DO to reduce the chance of an encounter. Just act like a human, give it little reason to think you're prey. Carry bear spray, a good hunting knife, take bear and cougar avoidance/defense training if your employer provides it (mine does--it was excellent).

I've worked in the forest my entire career, including time on the Island, and have yet to see a cougar in the bush. Plenty of tracks and scat (including in my yard) but no animal. So the chances of an encounter are very very rare. I'm not downplaying this, my neice's husband was stalked by one not far from CR, so I know they occur! But frankly, when I'm working I'm not preoccupied with the thought of an animal encounter. I'm prepared if it happens, but I'm not thinking about it, I just carry about my business. Hope that helps.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 06-28-2007, 01:32 PM
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I've seen a pic of a mask that fits on the back of your hardhat so it looks like you are facing backwards. Since cougar likes to attack from behind, pouncing on the back of the neck, the theory is that this will dissuade them. Something similar is used in tiger country in India. No tested data on efficacy.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2007, 07:21 PM
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When we were camping in cougar territory (for the first time ever!) I wondered if making noise/talking loud works for cougars?
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2007, 08:17 PM
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I agree with Dru.
Often the cats will try to get on from behind.I have seen the mask thing too.
Unlike bears,where you can often spot them,cats will stay out of visual and suprise you.When you are working,you will likely not hear or see cat if he is trying to get closer to you.
Last year my MOM was doing maintance in the back of her Kootenay property with a gas powered Brush saw.
She said she felt odd and turned off the saw and looked around.Sitting in some Ferns,20m away was an adult Cougar.She managed to scare it off,but that cat was on her backside,watching...
Often they like to bite the head,maybe some sort of protective head gear would help.I'd have some spray,perhaps even just the smaller dog ones,several of them.Make sure you know how to use it,quickly,instinctively.
The knive is always a big debate here,a smaller 8 inch blade is a better weapon than a large bushknive.You have a better chance to hold on to the smaller knive than have the big one ripped away from your grasp.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 04:03 PM
 
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Well, I don't have much direct experience with animals, but we have a lot of cougars here in New Mexico, and there's always stories going around, so I'll repeat what I've heard.

First thing I always hear is that it's very unlikely for a cougar to make its presence known. Even less so than bears.

My aunt's husband wanted to photograph some cougars in Colorado several years ago. He tells the story of how he backpacked by himself up into the mountain, following cougar sign. He camped out in one spot for three days waiting to see this particular lion. On the third day, he heard something, looked up, saw the cougar, grabbed his camera. That's when the cougar noticed him and took off. So his photo consists of one blurry set of hindlegs high-tailing it!


The other thing I heard is that it's not TERRIBLY difficult to fight one off. Not that I would want to try, but if you put up a good fight and hurt the animal a little, there's a good chance he'll run away.

Also mountain lions stalk their prey from BEHIND and try to target the neck or legs. So that's something to keep in mind.

New Mexico and Colorado have very high populations of cougars. I've been hiking and camping here all my life and have never seen one.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2008, 04:23 PM
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I had an unpleasant close encounter the summer before last on Vancouver Island and, as others have mentioned... it did not approach me from where I could see it. Once I became aware of it, at about ten to fifteen feet from me, I turned and faced it. Once it knew I could see it the cat froze and crouched low to the ground... and didn't proceed any farther.

Because of this experience I would certainly agree with Dru, get the hat that has painted eyes on the back. I really believe it would work.

The other thing I would add is that I've never heard of a single case of a cougar bothering anyone in a group of two or more, which is not to say it's never happened but none the less.. something to keep in mind.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2008, 10:33 AM
 
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Monster
The other thing I would add is that I've never heard of a single case of a cougar bothering anyone in a group of two or more, which is not to say it's never happened but none the less.. something to keep in mind.
Actually last year in California there was an incident with an "older" couple. The cougar attacked the man, clamped onto his head, and the wife had a real tough time fighting it off.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2008, 11:51 AM
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a couple years back i drew (angry looking)eyeballs on the back of my hardhat. so far no cats have come near me except for one incident where the cat was defending a kill. in that instance i was in a group of four and once she realized she was outnumbered she took off.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2008, 02:03 PM
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or, for those ferocious creatures which you DO see approaching that do not want to back down, there's this:
the Dlask SMD12 (Remington receiver, but modified by the legendary Dlask Arms Corp. in Delta, BC).
oh, and yes, it IS legal to carry one of these in back country, so long as you're not in a Provincial Park

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