The Lion's Eye
Despite of all my efforts, or perhaps because of them, I suspect there are still folks out there, even in the Santa Monica Mountains that are afraid of mountain lions. Actually if one jumped on me, I might have to change my pants. So what to do? There are a group of folks in Washington State who have an answer. Have you ever had bad breath or BO or some horrible thing where no one would talk to you? I hope not, but I know you can imagine such a thing. That’s why our nation spends billions on toiletries and the like. No, I am not suggesting that we get sweaty when we hike, I know that does not work. Well, actually, I always get sweaty and I’ve never seen one. Just be patient.
When you were a child, were you ever bullied by the big kids? Generally when someone is frightened by something, they stay afraid of it. Perhaps you read my article on fear mongering as a technique for getting people to do things because they are afraid. It actually works well enough that there are people who invest millions scaring people…..
The folks in Washington State have engaged the services of what are called Karelian Bear Dogs. Bear dogs are not afraid of bears or lions. In fact in the NRA world (National Rifle Association, not National Recreation Area), dogs are used to hunt bears. The idea is, you chase the bear or lion for miles till it can’t move any more. Then you force it to climb a tree and then you shoot it while it’s trying to catch its breath 20 feet away, a lot like shooting fish in a barrel.
Incidentally the president of the California Department of Fish and Game paid over $7,000 to do just that. What a man. Well, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife in the North Puget Sound area doesn’t do that. They capture lions in the same way our NPS does by darting them, but their release into the wild is different.
When the lion is about to be released, Karelian dogs are brought behind the cage and begin barking at the animal. When the cage door is released, the lion is terrified and runs out the front as fast as it can. Before its feet hit the ground, the DFW folks start yelling and making as much noise as they can, set off lots of firecrackers and once the lion has made some ground, they shoot a very loud rifle into the air a few times. The idea is to terrify the lion so it won’t come back. At least 80 percent of the lions are never seen again. I think that’s pretty clever. Maybe we could get funding to do that.
Anyone have some Karelian dogs they’d like to donate to the SMMNRA folks? Each dog is “married’ to a park ranger for life.
While this may smell of bullying the lions to some, those who are afraid of lions may disagree. Try walking up to a cage with a live mountain lion in it, close enough to hear it breath, or better yet snarl at you. Then imagine someone is about to open the cage door. You’d want it to take one look at you and go the other way. Imagine every mountain lion like that, you could stop worrying.
Incidentally if you are not afraid of lions, review your reasons why. You should be, they are dangerous. I saw people in Glacier National Park in Montana once trying to feed local black Bears along the highway. There was a mother and cub and a whole big bunch of people pulled over taking pictures. I wanted to scream at them to stop. When my wife saw papa bear coming down the highway toward the cars, we left.