Don't discount reports of mountain lion sightings

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I just finished reading the (March 11 Outdoors page) article and thought I would share with you my own little "mountain lion story."

Now ... "Back in the day," the summer of '94 or '95, I believe it was, I was living on Brown's Lake Road out Funny River Road, that's about 16.5 miles out. (Last name was Renney back then, figure you can catch that "gist").

I had a fair amount of livestock on the place and the odd chicken or duck coming up missing was commonplace. Always marked it up to coyotes, local dog packs (major nuisance!), my own dogs (unfortunate but, always caught 'em and "dealt" with it!), weasels, eagles or maybe the occasional fox, wolf or lynx. However, I began to experience some rather heavy losses at the time I'm referencing and was wondering about it when one day my dear friend and neighbor, "Denise" (some names have been changed to protect the innocent and honest), drove into my drive and, jumping out of her Subaru station wagon, breathlessly exclaimed that a "cougar" had just nonchalantly strolled past the front of her car, causing her to come to a complete stop to allow its passage, and it was headed for my barn. Of course, we ran right out to the barn (after arming ourselves appropriately. Now that I think back, that baseball bat probably wouldn't have done us a lick of good!) and saw nothing out of the ordinary except that my horses appeared extremely agitated and nervous.

I took my friend in the house, gave her a cup of coffee and told her to tell me exactly what she had seen. She described a mountain lion right to a "T." She said it was a big one too because its back was nearly level with the hood of her Subaru. Of course, I was skeptical; however, I had lived on the Oregon Coast until I was 10 years old and had been fortunate enough to actually see a few mountain lions while hunting in the Oregon forests with my father. Also, my friend was originally from California and she had also seen mountain lions during her years there. After she described a "large, long-bodied, tan-colored cat that moved really graceful — almost arrogant — with a very long, black-tipped tail and black dots above both its yellow eyes," I simply had no choice but to believe her! (If it looks like a cougar, walks like a cougar and acts like a cougar ... it must be a cougar!).

After she shared her story with the rest of our group of friends (most of which had never seen a cougar except for Walt Disney films) and they all, for the most part, "poo-pooed" her and told her she was imagining things, she ceased to talk about the incident with anyone but me and she chose not to report it to authorities for fear of more disbelief and ridicule. However, I believe my friend, and I believe that there was a cougar/mountain lion living out on Funny River Road during that long-ago summer. I don't know how it came to be there or where it eventually went after gracing us with its presence for such a short time. However, I do know that I served it some fine meals during its brief stay and I really hope it enjoyed its meal of my favorite pet chicken, Dot. I still miss that stupid chicken to this day!

Helen H. Hunt, Soldotna

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