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November 1.

Sunrise over the eastern buttes of the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area

Nov. 1, 2015     Sunrise over the eastern buttes of the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area

Our morning began with a phone call interrupting our early cup of jo. “I killed a mountain lion last night.” said the crackley voice on the end of the line. “Right down by the bridge crossing. It just ran out in front of me. And it was too late.”

I drove on over to see the size of the cat.

It was a female, young, maybe 1 1/2 to 2 years old.

Female mountain lion

Female mountain lion that had been hit by a rancher’s truck Oct 31. 2015. along Bethel Road toward Robert’s Trailhead, Pine Ridge National Recreation Area.

Not really sure whether or not she had had her first litter yet. I knew there had been one mountain lion or more in our canyon. I had seen the large foot prints, sometimes questioning whether they were from my large dogs.

Female mountain lion paw against my hand (paw is at least 6 inches)

Female mountain lion paw against my hand (paw is at least 6 inches)

 

 

 

However, a cat’s print is much larger and rounder, and without claw marks on the print.

Our turkey have been scarce lately too, another sign of local predators. But the coyotes have been busy too. Quite healthy looking as well. We knew there have been cats in the area. More sighting by local ranchers and farmers, more signs of their presence. Kill sites too have been spotted.

The deer make a awful sound when they are being taken down.

Shades of yellow, orange, red and green grassees along Cunningham Creek, Pine Ridge Recreational Area. Nebraska National Forest

Autumn puts on a beautiful show along Cunningham Creek where I had seen fresh cougar tracks in the mud just a few days earlier.

Their crying and screaming is similar to a child’s crying out for its mother. I’ve heard that sound a couple of times this season. Autumn. At first I was taken aback by the shrill cries of desperation and then it succumbs. Cries then whimpers echoing off the canyon walls. My dogs went crazy  barking and howling back at the unfamiliar sounds. I will not forget that sound.