Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

OK. No tigers—unless you count the little tiger cat who seems to pretty much be my kitty now. But bears are all around here. And it looks like the lions are back—at least one mountain lion (aka cougar) is. Oh, my!

Because of the frequent rain and the subsequent growth of vegetation (Our hay still hasn’t been cut!) and the increasing tick population, I haven’t walked the woods or fields on any of our farms for about two months. I don’t think I’ll be walking again for a while. Here's why:

This evening, after John and I had checked Polecat Creek Farm and were driving home, we encountered Lydia, who owns the farm just south of ours. She told us about seeing a mountain lion a few weeks earlier—on Bar Ridge Road between Blacksmith Road and Novelty Road—not too far from our farm. Less than a mile. Too close for comfort.

At first she wasn’t sure what it was, but when she described what she'd seen to her daughter, her daughter said it sounded like a mountain lion and looked up pictures on the Internet. Lydia realized that was exactly what she’d seen. Oh, my!

Also, she’d seen a mauled fawn’s body the day she saw the mountain lion. Odds are good the two sightings are connected.

A few years ago, a man a mile or two further south of us had seen a mountain lion on his property, too, so the critter isn’t unknown in these parts of rural Virginia.

My Lake Writer buddy Sally Roseveare, who lives on Smith Mountain Lake, has blogged about her experiences with cougars one county over from me. Other folks in the Smith Mountain Lake area have spotted the elusive critter, too.

J. N., posting on Wolves.wordpress, said on February 20, 2008:
I used to vacation on Smith Mountain Lake Virginia, Good View, and I can definatly confirm cougar in this area. It lived across the cove from us, and it would scream out at night sometimes, so loud that chills ran down our spines. We would sit on our back porch and listen awe struck. She was never spotted, but that sound is something that you never can forget or confuse for anything else. We had a secluded cabin off of cedar key road, private property (no hunting/trespassing) that ran for acres and acres, as well as a private and protected cove, as bass spawn there, no wake, no loud noises, no people. We have spotted a mother black bear and cub over by the damn while hiking, scary sight but very awsome. We had tons of deer, albino too! It’s been about ten years since then. . . .

On another site, Cougarinfo.org, “James” comments on November 11, 2000:
I have personally seen mountain lions in Virginia, one near Smith Mountain Lake and another just 4 days ago near my mailbox where I live in the country. The mature and very large lion at Smith Mountain crossed right in front of my car. The one I saw at the mailbox looked young and not as large. I am concerned about my safety and I have reported this to the game wardens but no help. . . .

This comment, in February 2009 by “Anonymous” on the Rule-303 Blog, puts a cougar about 20-25 miles from where I live:
. . . a few months ago I was standing on my back porch, and about 40 yards away was a big cat. It was grayish/brown in color and was just sitting on the gravel driveway staring into a field where deer graze. It noticed me, walked back up in the woods and came back 2 minutes later. I hung a piece of raw beef in a tree the next night and waited with a flashlight. It fell down the hillside, and scrambled back up the bank. That was the last I saw it. I called several game departments and contacts and everyone of them denied that it was a mountain lion and said it was a bobcat. I live in Boones Mill, and 50 yards away from heavily driven Rt. 220. It's incredible that we have these animals around here. . . .

This comment, posted by another “Anonymous” in May 2009 on the same blog, might have been written by Lydia’s daughter (or maybe by someone else in the neighborhood):
Definately a cougar in Franklin Co. VA—reading the earlier post I see that a cougar/lion was spotted in Boones Mill. I live in Penhook, just across the county, and today my mother asked me to pull up a photo of one because she had never seen them. The photo matched her sighting. Also when my husband and I were dating, we went four-wheeling in Endicott—an area between Ferrum and Floyd, and saw one. He told me that there was a mountain lion that lived in the old well house (he lived in an old farm house), and I never believed him. I changed my mind when we were a few yards away from one! I know a bobcat, and I know a dog—this is neither!

Now I’m wondering what Maggie the border collie and Hubert the beagle encountered last Groundhog Day when John and I walked our woods at Polecat Creek. Here’s part of what I posted on my February 4 entry:
We had to climb some steep hills with ravines between. Maggie and Hubert ran ahead—as they usually do—and disappeared into a deep ravine. Suddenly both dogs yipped/shrieked/made dog equivalent of a scream and came running toward us at top speed. For a moment, Maggie glared back at the ravine. What could have scared Maggie? She's pretty fearless. (We didn't go down for a closer look.)

Game officials deny that cougars are in our area, but too many folks—me included—believe these critters are around us.

I still haven’t seen a bear, but they’re all around, too. Not long ago, I blogged about a sighting less than two miles from me. I’ve heard that the new lake neighborhood, “The Retreat” in Union Hall, has some resident bears, too. That neighborhood is near Smith Farm.

Looks like I’m surrounded by critters that I’d best avoid—even if I haven’t seen them.

Oh, my!
~

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6 Comments:

Blogger CountryDew said...

Great post. I have seen a mountain lion, too, in these parts but of course no one officially believes it. However, it was a long time ago now. Still, like you, I think there's *something* out there...

6:09 AM  
Anonymous claudia said...

The oh my turns to 'HOLY CRAP' in my case!
I run these 54 acres every day...
think I am going to get one of those air horns that one would carry in a boat...afraid I'd shoot myself with a gun!!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

As you know, I am absolutely positive cougars are in the area. I wish the game officials would admit it!
Sally

9:35 AM  
Blogger Amy Tate said...

I saw one on Naff Road last fall. I know because I slammed on my brakes as it jumped in front of my car. They're dangerous but beautiful.

3:39 PM  
Blogger The Blue Ridge Gal said...

No mountain lions in our neighborhood but there has been a bear just two doors up from us. The dogs were going crazy at night that week. I think it may have moved on since our mutts are now sleeping through the night. Have to be careful when out and about and always alert... stay safe!

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

8:59 AM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

I think bears are everywhere lately. I can't believe I haven't seen one yet. Not that I'm looking for it. . . .

9:22 AM  

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