Friday, October 31, 2008

The Lion, The Ditch, and The Dirt Road

The mystery deepens.
While having a conversation with his sister this summer overlooking her lake, my husband caught movement out of the corner of his eye. His sister caught it too and they focused their attention to the sight that was unfolding some 300 feet away. The neighboring farm's three Golden Retrievers were chasing a fast moving animal out of the lake retaining ditch and across the fields towards our dirt road. They were losing the chase by a landslide. They watched it for some seconds before the animal disappeared into the trees. My husband mentioned the incident when he arrived home a few minutes later and I questioned him about what he saw. The animal was as large as a deer on shorter legs. It was tawny in color. I wasn't alarmed as of yet. I had seen pretty large coyotes out here plenty of times. It had at least a three foot long tail. Bushy is what I assumed he would say. No, he said it was more cat tail like but thicker. The brain does odd things at moments like these and mine was searching every major animal I could think would be naturally present in Ohio. But my subconscious already had the answer because my hairs on my neck were standing up. Mountain lion. But how? A few hours later after an exhaustive search on the Internet for disproving my theory I phoned a man in Pennsylvania who is a mountain lion expert. I explained what both my husband and his sister saw, and also mentioned an article I had found that seemed to collaborate their story. A large cat had been seen quite near to our property along the woods at Fort Ancient. A person had been driving along the quiet road when a huge cat leaped and cleared the road in front of them. My expert politely listened to my story and then unhesitatingly said no lion had ever been positively recorded in my area thus making it virtually impossible. He explained that surely a car accident or hunter would have proved their existence here in southwest Ohio. I felt a little relieved, but not much. While the thought of big cats on our property is exciting, I was just beginning to realize how nice it was to let our children roam a little freer than had been possible in Florida where there were so many natural hazards. Sharks, alligators, poisonous snakes, panthers, bobcats, and bears had been a constant worry in the wilds of Florida- and we had seen them all. A quick survey of surrounding neighbors confirmed my feeling that maybe my lion expert was incorrect. The neighbors to our back had seen a large mountain lion drinking from their lake. They had a clear and close view. Troubling was that their sightings had been going on for nearly three years. People had thought they were seeing things. I remembered a tale my husband had told me about him and his sisters walking down a wooded road as kids while dusk was approaching. They stopped dead in their tracks as they had heard what sounded like a combination of a loud animal roar and a woman shrieking. They ran as fast as they could back home. When he had first told me the story I had shrugged it off as wild kid imaginations. The tales were now getting more difficult to shrug off. Last week my Labrador Vishla was barking like mad from his fenced yard at something off in the distance. I went to window just in time to see something bounding off towards the huge natural reserve that adjoins our land. I had a bad view directly to the back end of the animal. It was amazingly fast, low to the ground, with a huge spread. There was something about the tail as it was too long for a dog. My denial was receding as the animal disappeared into the trees.

1 comment:

nina said...

Keep camera ready!