Big headline in the news this morning: Domesticated canine reacts with evolved instincts, protects pack member from wild animal.
The way Lloyd Forman sees it, his 11-year-old grandson was saved by an Angel.
Yes, the Star article takes the holy road, as expected.
Austin was out in the yard getting firewood when a cougar approached, aiming to jump the boy. Their dog did exactly what any pack animal does: challenge the invader. Austin was able to run into the house, which is when his mother called his grandfather for some reason, who suggested they call 911. A nearby RCMP came to their aid and shot the cougar while it was occupied with mauling the dog under the stairs (according to Calgary’s “guardian Angel” version) and the kid never saw it coming until the dog reacted and leapt between them. According to CTV, the cougar wasn’t much bigger than the dog.
From the Star:
Sgt. Peter Thiessen of the RCMP said there’s no question Austin’s encounter with the cougar would have been a lot worse had it not been for his dog.
“The boy was in severe risk,” said Thiessen.
“That cougar was advancing aggressively to both of them, and the dog intervened and got between the animal and the young child and the risk was extremely high.”
Thiessen said conservation officials will look into what happened and why the cougar came so close to people.
He said it’s uncommon – but not unheard of – for cougars to go after people.
“We have seen cougar attacks in the lower part of British Columbia,” he said.
“It’s not something that’s common, but it is something that has occurred.”
Before I get to the real meat about this – some cougar (aka Mountain Lion) facts:
Mountain Lions can survive in a variety of habitats, including high mountains, deserts, and swamps. Human activity has encouraged Mountain Lions to retreat to the rugged terrain that remains largely uninhabited by humans. Mountain Lion habitat must provide an adequate prey base as well as cover for hunting.
The range of a Mountain Lion may cover 25 to 785 square miles. Here in southern Utah, lions have been known to occupy home ranges as large as 513 square miles. The size of a lion’s territory depends on the availability of food and habitat quality
There, boys and girls, is the problem. It’s British Columbia and cougars have very little space to call their own anymore thanks to developers and industries that get approval to expand further and further into spaces that used to be cougar-friendly. These cougars that attack people — if all their other preferred meal choices have been chased away, what else could be expected? They’re wild animals that have evolved for millions of years and honed their hunting skills. It’s adaptation at its finest. They’re making do. It’s the only way they can hope to survive.
Okay, it’s not great from a human being’s perspective, but let’s be fair. There are way more human beings than cougars. Why not let the cougars have some? You really don’t want them to go extinct, do you?
Yes, I’m being facetious. More from Bryce Canyon National Park:
As a rule, Mountain Lions avoid people and signs of people, but in recent years, Mountain Lion attacks on humans have become a serious source of controversy. Although attacks on humans are extremely rare, the attacks have increased over the past few decades. As in most livestock depredations, the Mountain Lion that attacks a person is usually a hunger-crazed juvenile that has been pushed into marginal habitat by more dominant males. But it is human encroachment into Mountain Lion territory that creates marginal Mountain Lion habitat. As more people are recreating and living in rural areas, the chance of an encounter with these secretive animals is more likely.
I would like to see journalists mention that kind of thing when reporting on attacks, rather than just go for the human interest/angelic intervention angles. What ever happened to doing research into a story to flesh it out? Too much pressure to get a tale to print before the body’s ready, or what?