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Why not just bait, track and capture cougar(s)
Dear Dr. Spiegel, Why don't "they" trap the cougars and transfer them to open land? B.C. Milford, DE
Dear B.C., An excellent question and neat initials!! Frankly, I don't know. I have to this point not been in contact with/contacted by "them". And I've literally been waiting patiently for a reader to ask my opinion on the subject of the "dreaded cougars" for quite some time. So thank you, B.C. In light of the facts, it is reasonable to conclude that the cougar(s) [there are apparently more than one out there somewhere] are taking very good care of their own needs. And in all the time they've been out there, there has been a relative sparsity of sightings and a complete lack of problematic incidents. And, still, the media needs to stir the mix. People are responsible for their own fears. The sad thing is that all too often these fears get the better of some. And stories in the media have a tendency to inadvertently fuel these fears. There is no fault on either side. But when people do get scared it can add a significant amount of unnecessary and unwanted stress to their already worrisome lives. So how do we fix "this" problem. You have actually already said it with succinct wisdom... "Why don't `they' trap the cougars and transfer them to open land?" If they could simply be located, temporarily immobilized, and transferred to a significant area of land where they could live and range freely without stirring public fears and worries, then everybody would be a whole lot happier. There are all sorts of neat high tech gadgets that could potentially be utilized in such an operation. The first thing we need to find out is... Where is (s)he? Finding this out could be accomplished through the means of tracking devices. Now I'm not an expert in this area, but I'm sure there are enough minds out there somewhere in cyberspace or the phone book who are. Nevertheless, I'd be willing to bet that through patient and systematic helicopter surveillance in combination with immediate report sightings from the pubic to an appropriate central hotline, we could learn in what range/territory the creature is conducting its business. These creatures don't just wander aimlessly. They are usually somewhat patterned in their movements within their range. Once you have a good idea about it's range, then you can bait the area with fresh meat. The ideal bait would be a little too gruesome for the context of this column, although it would work very well. Within the bait could be placed a small signal transmitter though which tracking the cougar would now be easy. Once that part is easy, you can get people and Rhodesian Ridgebacks (a.k.a. ...African Lion Hounds), in position inconspicuously, and then corner, tranquilize, and relocate him. The plan would take an initially concentrated effort just to learn his routine daily/weekly movements first. The likelihood that someone will get a call, go to a location, track the cougar down, or wait in hiding for the cougar to come upon that person, in my estimation is unlikely at best. This is an intelligent and perceptive animal that we are speaking about. And again I repeat, it is not looking for trouble. That's why trouble hasn't happened. General cautions should be common sense anyway. Young children shouldn't be given the opportunity to wander outside unsupervised. Make children aware that there is a cat out there (which people have rarely seen) which is the size of a large dog... [show them pictures, read from encyclopedias]; and if they ever see one to walk away quietly and calmly and notify a responsible adult. Dog's should not be out wandering unsupervised, as well. And any hunters who may be attempting to bait this creature on their own; be wise and be careful and think deep about getting involved. I had someone recently tell me about how their dog was going over to a neighbor's yard down the road and dragging deer carcasses back to his master.