The dog stood on the back porch. He was barking. There was a hint of panic to it. Not the usual "please-let-me-in-now, I've-done-my-thing," kind of bark. He didn't take his eyes off the woods. I let him in and then fiddled with a pot on the porch. The dog, who was in the house at this point, came back out. He stood by me, and looked at the woods. I felt his consern. I felt his worry. I decided to take his advice. I didn't study the line of trees that come to an end at the edge of the yard. I didn't even wonder what could have showed it's self even for a moment, just a few feet from my boy's sandbox. I went into the safety of my home and shut the danger out. And forgot about it. Or did I?
What is in the woods? Dorothy said it was "Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my!" But is it really? Ok, I have already proven to the world that we have black bears in the woods. And I've seen a young grizzly wonder down last spring. But we chased it off and I've not seen it from the house. The Staff may have seen them on their wildlife watches in the spotting scope. But I don't see as much as the rest of them.
We have a staff member who's position is a Naturalist. Our Naturalist or Nature Boy (or girl) as I like to call them, depending on who I'm talking about, take the guests on hikes and show them things. You know, the kind of things most people, like myself, would never know or see. Like bear claw marks on trees, or wolf scat. They know the names of wildflowers and trees. Our Naturalist even knows which tree is called Mountain Lion Tree because it's where the cats like to sit and watch out for food to come walking up the trail. Yikes!
Evidently this tree is just up the trail. The trail that starts at my front yard. So Nature Boy put a camera in this tree. It's pretty cool because it's a motion sinser camera and it takes pictures at night. But would it be able to capture the image of what lurks just out of sight? Could it capture the image of a vampire, or a zombie? I'm thinking that's really what was out there. From reading we know that vampires live in the woods. And everything we read is true, right? ahem.
We all know there is a growing population of zombies. Have you noticed? I mean, there seem to be Zombie Walks all across the nation! And Zombie Runs! And in Florida somebody got their face eaten off. Really? Eating someone's face off? I think I'd notice that! If it's a zombie, that would be fairly easy to handle. They're easily spotted, that would be why my deaf dog was able to sense it. You can kill them with a shovel. You don't even need a permit at all! Oh wait, apparently you do in Florida. But this is Montana. Everyone has a gun in Montana. In fact, I know most kids spend their free time shooting ground squirrels just for fun. That and if you don't keep on top of the ground squirrel population, they will over run you and create so many holes in the fields that your animals will be at risk of breaking a leg in them.
But I have never really seen a zombie here in Montana, so either I'm one of the lucky ones, or they just haven't gotten here… yet. No, I guess it's probably not a zombie. Or a vampire. But that might not be such a good thing. Why? What could be worst than a zombie? Well, back to what Dorothy was worried about. Back to that tree. That camera.
|This is a picture from the camera from 2010|
There has been three incidences this spring where a wolf has been killed by a mountain lion. They know this because of the puncture wounds in the skull which is typical of the way these cats kill. I know this because I heard it on the radio. I really would like to question my sources about now.
There was a summer at the last ranch we lived at where we kept seeing cats. We finally got permission to relocate them with the help of Wildlife Fish and Game. That was a cattle ranch and the cats were on privet land. They had been seen stocking the cows. They were seen behind the employee housing. They had been seen around the resort's front desk area. It turned out that it was a family because we found the nest. Unfortunately this was a high risk situation and it didn't turn out as well as we planned. That's what happens when lions and people mix. It's just not good to have a neighbor who would like to eat you. I believe they only had to kill one but here is the account and photos from a friend who was working the front desk at the time.
During that time a very non-helpful person told me about an attack in Missoula where a lion came into a park on the outskirts of town and grabbed a nine year old boy by the head and ran off. (Maybe it was a five year old.) The father had run after the cat. I don't remember the end of the story, probably because I had my fingers in my ears and was shouting, "la la la la la!" to myself. Needless to say, I'm kind of freaked to let my kids out the door and out of my sight.
Mountain Lions are capable of attacking and killing animals as big as deer or elk. A small child in the woods that had always been so magical until now is nothing. I have to say given the choice of what could be in the woods, I'm really gonna have to go with zombies here, people.
~~ Credits ~~
Many thanks to Misty for many wonderful pictures of the Zombie infestation in Florida. To Anna for the picture of the dead Mountain Lion. To Jeff and Nikki from A Place for Embers, for the shot in the dark from the tree. And also to Google for more pictures of Mountain Lions. I hope I never get close enough to take a picture of one myself!