EDITOR: My first up close sighting of a cougar happened at the Folsom Zoo in the 1970s. I was watching it, wondering how anyone could kill such a beautiful beast. It was gazing off into space and I was thinking that it should be released into the wild. Suddenly the big cat’s eyes glowed just like my house cat’s eyes did when it spotted a bird. Turning to follow its gaze, I saw my 2-year-old running up to the cage. I realized that if the beautiful big cat was in my backyard that I could definitely kill it.
I have read of two killings of people by cougars; one here, one in Colorado. Both times the cats attacked someone running on a trail. We have all come across deer trails, or game trails, worn into the vegetation. Cougars watch the trails, drop on a deer, and dine. If there are too many cougars for the deer on the trail, or the cougar is hurt in some way, or if there are only people walking on the trail, the cougar will kill something besides a deer.
We need to strike a balance between killing cougars and endangering people. That balance existed under the Department of Fish and Game prior to the passage of an amendment in California protecting cougars specifically. The protection was not necessary and the expansion of cougars into populated areas has happened after the passage of that law. I hate to see too much human expansion into areas that have been wild, but I like living in El Dorado County and want to continue to do so. Other people obviously feel the same, so sometimes we will displace wildlife.
Anyone who has a cougar kill on their property should definitely report it. The fact that a cougar is killing in places that are occupied by people and their livestock is a signal that there is more harm to come. There is not enough room in our county for the number of people who are here and expansion of cougar range. It is basic biology that a species will increase unless some sort of population control is in place. For cougars the control is disease or starvation, and they do not like to starve. Let’s give thought to changing our laws to keep people safe.