If you're a hiker, biker, jogger or bird watcher living in North America and getting your fresh air anywhere outside of a seriously paved-over piece of real estate, you're at risk of becoming an entrée.
I would have thought your chances of being knawed on were more likely in Davy Crockett's time, but no, apparently that's not the case.
Once thought to be endangered, even extinct in many areas, writes Linda Lewis on her website cougarinfo.org, mountain lions have made a strong comeback throughout the United States and Canada after bountied hunting was banned in the 1960's. As a result of additional policies to protect and manage lion populations, increases in the numbers of these predators have resulted in more damage complaints and human encounters. A recent estimate by wildlife ecologists puts lion numbers at more than 31,000 in 12 Western states. This number [suggests there] may be more mountain lions in the West than there were before European settlement according to Maurice Hornocker, a senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. States such as California estimate lion populations which were as low as 600 are now closer to 6,000. Though scientific studies are difficult and expensive, Oregon is another state with similar estimates (about 5,000 currently). Recently, the presence of mountain lions has been confirmed in Manitoba, Canada. My e-mails report sightings in regions where they were considered extinct, including Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, Indiana, Arkansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ontario.
Reading through the harrowing accounts on her page of Confirmed Attacks (2001-now) will have you thinking twice about lacing up your running shoes for a brisk walk at the local golf course. And if a camping trip is your idea of a great way to help your couch-potatoe kids discover the wonders of nature, I have two words for you: Discovery Channel.
"Of the 19 confirmed deaths, 12 were children," writes Lewis. "Lions can sprint approximately 40 miles per hour, leap up 15 feet in one bound, spring forward almost 45 feet, and drop silently 60 feet and land running." Against those odds I say lock little Timmy and Suzy in the RV for the weekend. They can enjoy nature through the windows when they take a break from the Playstation!
These three images have been added to my Big Cat Attack! Flickr set.