I don’t fear lions…at least not when I’m sitting in my office typing on the computer. Let’s just say that a healthy respect for anything weighing 120 lbs., that has the stealth and strength to bring down a full grown horse, without making a sound, is the Webster’s Definition of ‘prudence’.
Tonight I was riding a fresh, half broke filly in some very wild, rock country, where lions are seen with regularity by the local populace. We rode until it was too dark to see. Every time I do that, I seem to recall what a Lion is capable of doing. Interesting thing is that they are almost never heard or sensed, by their prey, before the prey dies of a broken neck. If a horse does manage to shake the cat, it is most often unable to survive the encounter. But horses rarely sense their presence either by smell or sound.
Until just about 10 years ago, Colorado had never recorded a human attacked by a Lion. Very few were ever seen in the wild, except by houndsmen. But in the last 10 years, Mtn Lion encounters have become alarmingly common in some places, and at least three persons have been killed by lions in the state. Colorado is so concerned that the Colorado Division of Wildlife has now begun a Lion study program to try to track and document movements of lions that live in close proximity to humans, and who have become habituated to human interactions. We are trapping, radio collaring, and tracking lions along the front range.
I could tell a lot of lion stories… but suffice this: In early 2011, a Lion entered a residence, through an open sliding glass door, after dark, with the owner at home, but in an adjoining room. The cat attacked the resident yellow lab dog, and escorted it outside. The owner came back into the room to watch the ending of the Bronco game, and found his dog missing. He looked outside in time to see the cat leaving with Fido in it’s grasp.
I have had the dubious honor of having a full grown lion on the end of a lariat, and can attest to the unbelievable speed and reaction of a cat: Even a cat that had been injected with a ‘normal’ dose of Rampun and Ketamine. However, the reaction of a lion to a tranquilizer can not be determined with any degree of scientific accuracy. Apparently, they have not read the book. And, for the record, it is not as easy as the movies might depict to remove a lariat from an target. Especially when the target is a live, angry, very alert Mtn. Lion: a killing machine with 10 razor blades mounted on lightning fast arms. But then, ropes are expensive….
Kenosha and I made it back to the truck in the dark, with no moon, and were greeted by Roxie, the Border Collie in the back of the truck, with enthusiastic dog-words, something to the affect that she had been worried, and was sure glad to see us. I breathed a sigh of relief and told Kenosha that she had done very well! And there, on the front seat of the truck, was my trusty pistol, just where I had left it. Makes me wonder if I will ever learn…
Adventure is not on the map.
Seek and ye shall find