Saturday 9 December 2023

Poignant and emotive picture of a young mountain lion in Wyoming gets my juices flowing

Wyoming is the 10th largest state in the United States but it has a tiny human population at just under 600,000 people. This is about one-tenth of the population of Colorado, regarded as a similar state.

Turning to this photograph, which I really like, I think the lack of humans in Wyoming comes into its own with respect to the mountain lion and other wildlife.

A young mountain lion pads across a deck overlooking Star Valley in November 2023. (Marti Halverson)

This photograph taken I believe with an iPhone which I also think is relevant because the quality is excellent for a phone camera, shows that wide-open space of Wyoming with a sprawled out human settlement.

It is unsurprising to me that this sub-adult puma has meandered onto the decking of a house overlooking the valley. No doubt this extended and dispersed human settlement is on mountain lion territory.

It is not uncommon for humans to build properties on the home ranges of mountain lions which is going to lead to human-puma conflict.

Fortunately, there was no conflict in this instance. The property owner Marti Halverson called up a local houndsman and asked them to bring a dog to encourage the mountain lion to disappear up the valley which they kindly did.

Apparently the young puma's mother was nearby. Last summer she was photographed with her adult female cubs but this time the mother was alone. It appears that the kids had grown up and this young mountain lion was exploring, learning to be independent. She had just been weaned I expect.

It can be a dangerous time especially for male mountain lions who have to find their home range sometimes huge distances from their natal range. And they can be harmed in that discovery and journey to their new home. They can be harmed by hunters or other mountain lions i.e. resident mountain lions who want to protect their home range.

What I like about this photograph is that it really highlights beautifully how the mountain lion fits in with the human-made environment in a state where nature still has the upper hand. Where the mountain lion can roam I suspect pretty freely but there is this ever present human danger.

This young mountain lion doesn't know about that danger. They don't understand how dangerous humans can be and simply finds this house interesting to explore. And behind, as mentioned, we have this beautiful vista of this wide valley and in the distance the mountains.

To people in Europe, who live in high density population places, this kind of wide-open vista with plenty of space is a breath of fresh air. To me it looks wonderful. I think I would like to live in this home and I would have loved to have photographed this beautiful mountain line. I wish her well in her life's journey.

A great danger for her will be humans with rifles and dogs because hunting mountain lion hunting is allowed in the state of Wyoming. They can be hunted with all legal firearms and archery equipment. That's her danger. I wish it wasn't the case. I can't tell you how much I hate hunters and the hunting of beautiful wild animals for the pleasure; for the fun of it. It doesn't add up to me at all.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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