Critters first - humans considered last?

TRACKSIDE © by John D’Aloia Jr.

July 6, 2004

Remember the Kingston Trio’s ballad South Coast? The second line of the chorus goes "But the lion still rules the barranca, and a man there is always alone." (It is well that this is the written word, that you do not have to listen to me try to sing it.) The lion they have ruling the outback in their song is not the African lion, but the American puma concolor, an animal with a range from Alaska to the Straits of Magellan, and across the Gulf Coast to Florida. It is known by many other names - cougar, mountain lion, mountain demon, panther, deer tiger, Mexican lion, mountain screamer, catamount, Indian devil, and king cat - and some not fit for print.

Given the extent to which animal lovers and promoters of the Wildlands Project are using the Endangered Species Act to protect the cats, and to introduce them into areas where they once were but are not now, the chorus from South Coast could well be their battle cry for it talks about wild things with humans being scarce. Critters first, humans considered last - - maybe.

No matter the resemblance, no matter which of the some 30 odd subspecies you might want to consider, puma concolor are not just big pussy cats. They are deadly hunters who can take down all but a few of the animals found wild or domesticated in the Americas. One document stated that they are particularly fond of horses and burros and noted that they can cover 45 feet in a running broad jump and leap as high as 15 feet.

Pumas are not dummies; they will go where the easy-picking food is located. More and more that food supply is found on ranches and farms - and along jogging and hiking paths. An AP news article reported that a mountain lion attacked a hiker near Kernville, California, on June 26. Her three companions drove off the lion with rocks and knives, but not before the hiker suffered deep lacerations in her thigh and injuries to her eyes. (The lion was later shot by game wardens.)

This is but the latest such report. Others who have met up with pumas have not been so fortunate. The same AP report cryptically noted that in January, a mountain lion killed a cyclist and mauled another near Los Angeles. Another AP article noted that two children were attacked in 1986 in California state parks and that there were between 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions wandering across California. State law prohibits hunting or killing them.

Are pumas just a California issue? Of course not - as their numbers are artificially increased and maintained by giving them sacred status, their instinct to establish individual hunting ranges will force them into areas settled and used by humans, and in so doing live stock depredations and attacks on people will become an escalating problem. While the cats are wide ranging by themselves, they have the help of the ecofascists who stand ready to load them in the truck (almost said SUV) and drop them off where ever the ground work has been laid by ESA law suits or by willing accomplices in government agencies. One example of the efforts to help the cats repopulate the country was provided in 2003 in a column written by Jim Slinksy, an outdoorsmen talk show host in Pennsylvania. He noted that the Pennsylvania Wildlands Recovery Project wants to establish wilderness areas in the state and that they define wilderness thus "Wilderness is self-willed land where native processes, not human agency, direct the ebb and flow of life." Slinksy wrote: "It's simple. These people are advocating the full-scale reintroduction of mountain lions in PA to pre-colonial prominence. They don't need hunters or trappers in their brave "New World." Mountain lions will regulate this new Utopia. Mountain lions? For the record mountain lions are known, irrefutable man killers, or should I say child killers? Lions attack children and family pets more often than adults."

Slinksy ended his column with these words: "I urge you to think long and hard if your vision for Pennsylvania includes mountain lions, timber wolves and our lands locked-up as wilderness and off limits to our citizens. The threat of this happening is real. I further encourage you to take your decision to your elected officials. The future of our civil rights, land management policies and wildlife traditions are truly in your hands."

Is it possible that the "barranca" of South Coast will turn out to be the entire country? Will the lion rule?

See you Trackside.



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