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The Informed Citizen
Monday, February 07, 2005

By David Baron

(Book Review)

On January 16,1991,searchers found the eviscerated,partly-eaten corpse of Scott Lancaster,an 18 year old high school athlete-who had been attacked in broad daylight as he jogged near the Idaho Springs,Colorado high school.

Not far away-"guarding" the corpse-was the killer: a 100 lb female cougar.When the cougar began menacing the search party,it was brought down by volleys of rifle and pistol fire.

Subsequent autopsies of killer and victim revealed the big cat had killed the young man.Evidence found at the scene showed the cat had deliberately stalked her victim.

At the time of the killing,prevailing "wisdom" held that cougars are afraid of humans,and attacked only if cornered or harmed by the human.Prevailing wisdom was,of course,dead wrong.

David Baron's scholarly examination (sometimes a bit too scholarly !) traces the tragedy - and a number of subsequent attacks-back to their starting point: a total misunderstanding of nature by those who make and enforce environmental policy.

Nearby Boulder,Colorado-populated largely by "ultra-liberal" city folk,with a sappy,Walt Disney view of nature-had literally attracted a population of cougars by encouraging the presence of an over-abundant deer herd,which roamed the city in broad daylight: eating shrubs,gardens,and flowers,and stripping the leaves off trees.

When the big cats began arriving,the residents protected them-even after they began eating cats and dogs,and menacing humans.( A hiker was attacked by two cougars,but escaped with
only bad scratches-and nightmares-after the cats broke off their attack to run down a deer that had blundered onto the scene.)

When a nearby deer rancher hunted down and killed a 170 lb. male cougar that had killed one of his animals,the Boulderites were outraged-even though extra police patrols had been deployed to guard vulnerable school children at bus stops,and even though it was unsafe for children to play unsupervised in their own yards !

The killing of Scott Lancaster didn't even make frontpage news in nearby Boulder.For one thing,the Gulf War had just started.For another (though it seems to have been unsaid) Scott was not the child of any of Boulder's "Liberal Elite"...and the Cougar attack was shrugged off.

There have been similar attacks since-in California,Montana,and Washington.The big cats-long protected-are making a comeback all across the United States,and some are following the Boulder,Colorado pattern: they are moving around humans in daylight,and are showing no fear of them.They are eating cattle,poultry, and household pets.....and showing increasing interest in humans.
It's only a matter of time....
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