Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Goodness, THAT was weird! Mountain Lion encounter!

  1. Aug 29, 2010 #1
    Ok, I admit it - I was a stupe. I took a bag of month-old frozen shrimp with me as I walked around my neighborhood about fifteen minutes ago while attempting to locate an apparently wild, but very beautiful dog.

    I didn't locate the dog.

    On the NW corner of our complex, however, a mountain lion located me!

    It was clearly interested in the shrimp, so I simply let him/her have it! Funny thing, though, it did not approach me as much of a predator, but more like a big kitty. I usually carry a firearm while walking around town at night, but I didn't this evening as I was "only" taking a short hike through my neighborhood.

    I'm still shaking! He (I think it may have been a he) walked up behind me on the backstretch of the NW corner of my complex. I heard something and turned around, and there "he" was, sniffing after what I was carrying.

    I shifted into "adopted pet mode," and simply said something like, "Hey, ah-ah-ah!" at which this "kitty" just realized I meant it no harm, and started partaking of the shrimp in my bag.

    I stood about ten feet while it devoured about ten shrimp, and when it looked up at me after it was done, I simply leaned over and said, "Ok! Food's gone - timne for you to leave!"

    Sheesh! Argha! Yak! "Nice kitty" and all but dang, I do NOT want to repeat this experience!

    And yet it wasn't a "cat grab everything." This is the weird part - I held onto the bag while I fed "kitty," but only for a moment - then I stepped back while it finished. Something about man vs animal kicked in. I dunno what it was, but I can assure you CAT was going to get the shrimp!

    Still, it was more of an "asking" than it was an attack. I certainly don't want to obfuscate the issue.

    But wow - I've never met a cougar before! I'm so glad she was polite! - Nice kitty..

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I would be interested in hearing this story again - once you've collected your wits... :biggrin:

    Where the heck do you live??
  4. Aug 29, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Wow, that's a cool and amazing story!

    Um...are their kids living in the complex? Well even if there aren't, maybe you should notify the proper authorities...seriously. Cougars can kill people...nice kitties :smile:.
  5. Aug 29, 2010 #4
    Thank you for being alive and sharing this story :biggrin:
  6. Aug 30, 2010 #5

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Uh oh, now kitty knows where to come for shrimp!

    You might as well just plan to keep him.
  7. Aug 30, 2010 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Somewhere in an alternate reality:

    Hey guys, did you hear about the guy who tried to feed a lion his bag of shrimp? Talk about a Darwin award!


    Anybody seen mugaliens around lately?
  8. Aug 30, 2010 #7
    Lol, I live in the north part of Colorado Springs, about half a mile from I-25, near the U.S. Air Force Academy. There's a creekbed about 100 ft from the encounter, and I suspect it had been wandering there when it got a whiff of my shrimp.

    Bear and coyote are common around here, and I hear the latter yipping at night, though they tend to keep their distance. I passed a bear once while mountain biking on the New Santa Fe Regional Trail near where it crosses onto the southern border of the Academy. Fox and bobcat are less common, though I've been within ten feet of both. I could care less about fox, but bobcat are a bit scary, particularly one rather large fellow which frequents my parents' neighborhood. I've gotten a whiff of mountain lion twice while hiking. Like foxes, they stink, and I could certainly smell her. I've also spotted them in the distance a couple of time, but they're fairly reclusive, which is why I was surprised by this encounter!

    Trust me, Office Shredder, I would not have fed her if I'd had a choice, as I have no desire to habituate a wild cougar to humans. While her body position was somewhat submissive, she had every intention of getting her paws on the shrimp, so I wasn't about to put up any sort of fight.

    Although I didn't get an opportunity to examine her in detail, I do think it was a female, as she didn't appear to weigh more than 70 or 80 lbs. She appeared to be a bit smaller than my brother's German Shepherd, who weighs about 85 lbs.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  9. Aug 30, 2010 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Wow! The "deadliest" wild animal that I ever fed in the wild was a weasel. It kept popping in and out between the rocks of cairn I was sitting on at the top of Coburn mountain. Finally, it got brave enough to take pieces of sandwich from my hand. Pretty cute.

    It was probably a female with a litter of kits to feed because I have similar luck with female chipmunks. Males are more skittish.
  10. Aug 30, 2010 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    You were very lucky. The closest I've been to a monutain lion is when one got into my backyard. Once in awhile they would come into our neighborhood. One ate a neighbor's chihuahua, and another neighbor ran over one.

    They were up on the hill where I used to go hiking and came across a fresh print in the mud, but never had one eating out of my bag of shrimp. I think I would have fainted.
  11. Aug 30, 2010 #10
    Egads! I didn't think about that. They're fierce defenders of their kittens.

    Yes, I do count myself lucky. I didn't faint, but my adrenaline was definately pounding my heart through my chest, so much so that I was still a bit shaky as I typed the OP. I knew that if I ran it would probably incite its predator instinct. I did think about throwing my arms up and yelling as is commonly advised, but as it wasn't being aggressive, I didn't want to make it aggressive (or defensive).

    By the way, whereabouts are you located, Evo?

    I dunno - it just happened. I think the action I chose was probably the best I could have taken. If I'd been carrying like I normally do, I definately would have drawn while tossing the bag of shrimp to the side, but I'm also fairly certain I would not have fired unless she had either charged or poised herself for a leap at me. Aside from hunting deer a couple of times, I've never fired at a wild animal despite several close encounters. I've never had to. There's just something between man and animals which has never made that necessary. As a kid I lived next to a very large wooded area, but the scariest things I ever encountered there were rattlesnacks, cottonmouths, and the neighborhood bully who lived across the street. I was charged by a wild pig once late at night when I lived in Germany.

    This was different. I know it sounds trite to say that the encounter was "weird," but it was. It was nothing like what I would have expected. She simply padded up behind me and when I turned around she stopped short a few feet away with a non-aggressive look/stance as if to say, "Food. Me. Want," though it was clear I wasn't her target, at least not by then.

    She was polite, but insistant. I didn't argue.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  12. Aug 30, 2010 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Mmm. Rattlesnacks.

    The crunchy snack that bites you back.

  13. Aug 30, 2010 #12
    That is quite an unusual encounter. I'm glad you didn't get hurt. There are usually only a couple ways you meet a mountain lion:

    1. It is on your back chewing on your neck and you don't know what happened
    2. You see it before it eats you and it gets scared and runs away
    3. It is still aggressive even though you see it and you shoot it full of holes with your sidearm
    4. You don't have a sidearm (see option no. 1)
  14. Aug 30, 2010 #13


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It had probably already eaten that dog he was looking for and just wanted a snack.
  15. Aug 30, 2010 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yeah, to get that icky taste of dog out of its mouth...blech!
  16. Aug 30, 2010 #15
    Someone else in the neighborhood has been feeding that big kitty.
  17. Aug 30, 2010 #16


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That was my thought, too. It sounds like very unusual behavior for a completely wild cat.
  18. Aug 30, 2010 #17
    Maybe, he is used to eating food from people :bugeye:
  19. Aug 30, 2010 #18
    We have the same problem here in AZ. The big cats, the bob cats , and the coyotes have lost their natural fear. Most likely this is because we built high density housing in their normal habitat.

    The bad part is that not showing a fear of humans is a symptom of rabies. So far there has been no rabies just a lot of overly friendly critters.
  20. Aug 30, 2010 #19
    I think I may have put another piece into this puzzle, after discussing this with a good friend who is a former sheriff's officer from California. Years ago, he and I went out back in his place and he threw a tennis ball to his eight dogs, telling me which ones, and in what order, would jump in your pool after the ball, and he was right every single time.

    It was simply pecking order.

    We humans do this, too, although most of us are largly oblivious to it. With most animals, however, it's on the forefront of their consciousness, as it's often a life or death issue.

    The same thing happened the other night. No difference. It wasn't a conflict at all.

    Man, I really need to get better at this, as I do, on occasion, work with wild animals.

    Call me a pup...

    - Mugs
  21. Aug 30, 2010 #20


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Hahahaa! Ahem, sorry I mean glad you're OK, but that was fun to read. Just don't forget your firearm next time, though I'd like it if you try to walk with a frozen fish instead and tell us how would it be like! :biggrin:

    You see, I don't see where they say cats are evil, they are polite! :biggrin:
  22. Aug 30, 2010 #21
  23. Aug 31, 2010 #22
    That's a possibility. There aren't many people around here who keep wolves as pets, but they certainly do. In fact, there are two wolf preserves nearby, and most of their inhabitants are former pets.

    I usually carry something that's just a *bit* more effective. :) From now on, make that "always."
  24. Sep 5, 2010 #23
    She's baa-aack...

    During my nightly round as the neighborhood watch guy, I saw her. I was in my truck, so I simply drove towards her, with lights flashing and horn honking. I even did a touch of off-roading down the trail she took towards the river.

    Thanks for the input, folks. Both she and the rest of us are much better off if she's feeding on natural prey.
  25. Sep 5, 2010 #24
    Hmm. I just happen to be looking for a cat.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook