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Staking a Claim

About nine years ago, the park I live in was a big mess. The owner of the park hired my neighbor to fix the homes in the park. Doors were hanging from the hinges, broken windows, bears, and other wildlife had made a big mess of the houses inside and out. So not many of the places were habitable and the time.

One evening he was walking through the park and saw a cougar perched in a dilapidated doorway of a home that happened to have no door to block wildlife from entering. The cougar was in a relaxed pose with its front paws crossed. This pose is a clear indication of ownership on the cat’s part, this is my new home, and I am showing you that I am staking a claim. The only thing my neighbor could do at the time was to make himself as tall as possible, walk with a confident swagger. In this situation, you do not look back towards the predator; by looking back over your shoulder at an apex predator, you are marking yourself as prey, saying come and chase me. He said he was ultimately a mess on the inside and told himself, “From here on out, I am packing heat!”

The cougar was an older male thrown off his patch by a younger rival. An older apex preditor at this juncture of its life makes this a dangerous situation as many times the older cougar have dental problems, making human prey or pets much more attractive. The teeth used for gripping larger game like a deer are usually the first dental problems a big cat faces with older age.

This scenario has occurred in many different countries, like the movie based on real-life circumstances, “Out of the Darkness,” which took place in Africa. There have been cyclists pulled from their bikes, hiking trails, etc.

There are many non-harmful, relatively small defensive items you can carry with you when surrounded by wildlife, especially predators. Air horns are one item, bear spray for the eyes of whatever you are facing, loud whistles, etc.

When we get complacent because we can not see wildlife, anything can happen. These animals are quick and quiet for the most part and have natural abilities to blend into their environment. Unfortunately, biking and running, any motion activities, attract predators’ attention because both are prey’s behavior in the animals’ minds.

It is best to prepare for the unexpected and carry technology with you.

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