Last May, my brother Frank sent me some photographs that his next door neighbor had taken using a motion activated wildlife camera. The camera was positioned in a canyon between their two houses. Those pictures showed a mother mountain lion and her cub. They were posted here. This post contains some more photos from Frank’s neighbor. There are more lions in these pictures and the woods are found to be also populated with black bears, but alas no tigers. Frank believes that the picture of three cats is the mother and her two cubs that were seen last spring.
Frank and Kathy and their neighbor live in Sutter Creek, CA, in the heart of the gold country, east of Sacramento. They live at elevation in wooded countryside, not too far from the Sierra Mountains. So, it is not near as surprising that they have mountain lions there as it is that a similar wildlife camera snapped a picture of a mountain lion in Chesterfield, MO. In January, the Post-Dispatch reported this sighting. In west Saint Louis County, Chesterfield borders the Missouri River. It was along this river that the picture was taken. Large rivers like the Missouri are nature’s highways for wildlife of all sorts. I’ve seen deer and wild turkeys just a couple of miles north of the Arch, along the Mississippi, along the industrial riverfront of downtown Saint Louis. So if large prey animals are traveling these river roads, it is not too surprising that large predators are trailing their footsteps. I take heart that wildlife is able of adjust to our footprint.
In all of these photographs the brilliant eyes of the cats are most noticeable. The term cat eye derives from the resemblance of a cat’s eye to a common, prism based retro-reflecting optical system that can produce this well-known phenomenon. It is also know as “glowing eyes” and is really only reflected light, rather than actual glowing. In humans this same photographic effect is referred to as the red-eye effect. Some cameras try to mitigate this effect by preceding the main flash with a smaller one designed to contract the subject’s pupils.
What I find interesting is that this post occurs on the same morning that I hear on NPR that there is confirmation that the Eastern Mountain Lion is now officially declared extinct, and that the Western Mountain Lion (as seen in the photos) is expected to eventually migrate into what had been the Eastern’s territory. Interesting that the extinction announcement comes now, when the last Eastern was apparently seen in the 1930s (did I hear that right, NPR?). What’s confusing me is that in the same article, there was also some mention of a couple of pockets of Easterns still in Florida.
I just heard that this morning too. Yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had declared the Eastern Cougar to be extinct, except for a sub-species in Florida and apparently since the 1930s. Western Cougars are believed to be migrating eastward to fill the void. This might explain the recent Saint Louis sighting.
“Scat” by Carl Hiaasen, is a young adult novel about Florida Cougars, and developers, (hiss-ss) and other Florida characters. This is the same author who wrote “Hoot”, which was made into a movie.
–The other regenaxe