I think we have a Cougar in the area. A big ugly moggy. One of these.
Went out to hand our landlady the monthly rent cheque this evening when we heard a noise like nothing I'd ever heard before. A kind of double scream repeated. One long cry followed by a shorter one, twice. A bit like the scream of an Eagle, but without that raspy quality big birds have in their cries, yet definitely not human. The scream, definitely not a screech, was from quite close to, less than a hundred and fifty metres if my educated ears are any judge.
Landlady looked alarmed but before she disappeared indoors I was treated to the gossip that a Cougar had been sighted recently about a mile away, so it might just have been one. Although I've never actually seen a North American Cougar in the flesh. Not that keen on meeting one close to without a gun in my hands, although I'm told they're quite shy of people, so perhaps the chances are fairly remote.
Landlady's cat also disappeared sharpish which is another clue, as that particular domestic feline isn't fazed by any of our population of Bald Eagles or the local dogs. He doesn't take any nonsense from the Raccoons either, feisty little so-and -so. Whatever made the noise has to be a bit out of the ordinary as Dog is fussing and can't settle. Well, if it hangs around for a few days I'll give the Wildlife Officer a ring and ask what they do about Cougars, if anything. I know they trap Black Bear (Ursus americanus vancouveri) and relocate them. Not sure about Cougars.
If we do have a Cougar locally then our local population of Black-tail (Mule) Deer had better look out, although I think they are more at risk from the traffic. One sturdy looking buck bounced across the road right in front of me when I was driving home this afternoon. Good test of reflexes I can tell you. Good test of my vans brakes too.
For myself I'm not awfully troubled as I usually tote a fairly hefty five foot long wooden walking pole when I go out. This is to take pressure off an old Rugby injury which flares up from time to time, but also for feeding to predators who get too close to Dog. Point first, a la kebab if you catch my drift. Although my older brother's assertion that "My first confrontation with a Bear will be your last". While Dog and I are out walking in the woods I give Mr Bruin plenty of time to get out of the way by calling loudly to Dog. I try to work on the principle that most wild animals (With the notable exceptions of Grizzly or Polar Bears) generally have the sense to leave people alone unless surprised, starving or provoked. In this way we do not confront, we co-exist.
Gosh, all this excitement fair wears you out. Time for a Jameson's I think.