I break up my time between residing exterior Yosemite Nationwide Park and in Los Angeles. That I’ve the possibility to see mountain lions in each locations supplies me with endless awe, and with hope: If a mountain lion can reside in the course of Los Angeles, wildness and wild issues simply might need a future on this planet in spite of everything.
I not too long ago obtained a message a couple of well-known cougar named P-22 that calls Los Angeles house, along with a well known photograph of the animal and the headline, “Man Says He Killed Mountain Lion After It Attacked Him on Colorado Path.” At first, I took subject with the case of mistaken identification. In truth, P-22 is a mannequin of coexistence, a predator that has lived within the second-largest metropolis within the nation since 2012 with out threatening any of the 10 million individuals a 12 months who recreate in Griffith Park — the lion’s personal yard.
As I discovered extra concerning the incident, although, I shortly turned much less involved about P-22 being accused of a criminal offense he didn’t commit, and extra concerning the pervasive and inaccurate body of the story, which vilified the mountain lion — celebrating a bloodthirsty predator receiving justice in an against-all-odds heroic contest of man vs. beast. As I dug deeper, I found that many of the tales ignored the truth that the cougar in query was not even an grownup, although the pictures from virtually each media outlet I noticed confirmed absolutely grown lions, generally snarling, threatening-looking ones for dramatic impact. In truth, the animal was doubtless a ravenous teen that weighed about 40 kilos and maybe was not but mature sufficient to even be unbiased from its mom. For perspective, I posted on Fb a photograph of myself with a kitten of the identical dimension — Sam, Mission Survival’s Cat Haven resident mountain lion.
I don’t query the best of the runner to defend himself in opposition to assault. However let’s be clear: This was not an grownup animal concentrating on human prey; it was a hungry kitten resorting to determined techniques. I’m very glad the runner survived, and that reality needs to be celebrated. But I’m additionally saddened that so many wanted to rejoice the ensuing dying of the cat. As one of many commenters on the Fb submit I shared so aptly noticed, can we have a look at this incident as unlucky quite than outstanding?
As somebody who works in wildlife conservation and offers with mountain lions, I need to disrupt the prevailing narrative of this story. I believe it does a disservice to everybody concerned, and certainly may even threaten public security. Vilifying mountain lions (or runners) serves nobody. It’s necessary to teach the general public about the actual dangers of wildlife encounters, and the best measures individuals can take to attenuate the possibility of an assault. Portraying cougars as man-eating animals that may assault at any second solely causes unneeded hysteria.
Most encounters between wildlife and folks finish with out incident. In truth, most People’ encounters with mountain lions happen with out us even being conscious of our brushes with these majestic creatures.
Mountain lion assaults are extraordinarily uncommon. If public security is a priority, wild animals needs to be far down on the record of what we must always worry. For instance, cars trigger on common over three,000 deaths annually in California. In the meantime, mountain lions have killed simply three individuals since 1986, in a state with a inhabitants of 40 million. These statistics don’t diminish the tragedy when an individual is killed or injured by a lion, nevertheless it places the danger in perspective. Dwelling in lion nation is way safer than residing in automobile nation.
Why will we preserve perpetuating this feud between wildlife and folks, encouraging unwarranted worry? I’m not asking us to guage or condemn both social gathering. As an alternative, let’s rewrite the headline: “Man kills immature mountain lion in self-defense after ravenous animal attacked him.” For wildlife to have a future in our more and more human-occupied areas, we have to begin concerning wild animals (even predators), not as foes, however as Henry Beston calls them: “Different nations, caught with ourselves within the internet of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”
Beth Pratt, creator of When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors: Folks and Wildlife Working It Out in California, serves because the California regional government director for the Nationwide Wildlife Federation. This essay initially appeared at Excessive Nation Information.
Photograph high: Sawtooth
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