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Wolves, cougars, and the little woods

There is so much wildlife activity in the little piece of woods and meadows next to my home that I don’t need to venture much farther than ‘around the block’.  Sometimes just sitting on my front patio is enough.

Besides the nesting bluebirds and house wrens, the red-tailed hawk making its’ rounds, and the pair of Golden Eagles soaring above, there are morning and evening visits from does and bucks in velvet, and an occasional turkey.

But the unseen action is taking place when I’m sleeping.  Now I’ve caught two different wolves on my trail camera set up in the woods.  On the 2nd of May I clocked this black female passing south early morning.

Solitary female probably from the old Sunlight Pack that was killed off last year by another pack

And now on the 12th I caught another wolf, unknown, heading north almost at the same time in the morning.

first shot from trail camera

Yearling pup from the pack presently occupying the valley

Of course, coyote is always running through the woods so trail photos of him abound.

Coyote. Easy to tell wolf and coyote apart

Usually when I retrieve my trail camera I’m expecting to see dozens of only deer photos so I have been pleasantly surprised.  Here’s a nice buck photo.

Lastly though, here’s the most unexpected.  Last week Koda dragged me over to some strong smelling scat.  It was a large pile on top of an older pile, definitely cat, and I mean big cat.  The deer are still low and some must be having their fawns.  Of course, this winter I spent tracking a cougar and understanding in greater depth their sign.  Yet I was surprised to see that a cougar was this low and so close to the houses.  Granted, the summer residents aren’t here yet, but there is the occasional activity still.  I made a mental note of where the scat was–on the far side of the woods–but saw nothing else.

Then today while returning the chip to the trail camera, Koda got a sudden urge.  I’ve learned to trust his instincts and smeller so I followed him.  And not more than 50 feet off trail from my camera was a cat kill.  The deer had already been consumed with just its legs left, but there was the tell-tale mound of the formerly covered carcass, the plucked fur, and another smelly scat on top of it all.

Cougars pluck their carcasses. Bears pull the skin back.

I found a jaw of a young deer, although the legs were too big to be a fawn, so maybe this deer had been a yearling.  This is the first time I’ve seen cougar sign in the woods or a cougar kill so low.  The crazy thing is those cougars are so stealthy that there were no tracks, and besides, my trail camera was almost right there and I didn’t get any photos.  The cat, you see, didn’t use the game trail like the Canids and Ungulates do.

Telltale sign of where a cougar covered its’ kill. Plucked fur abounds.

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One Response

  1. So you can imagine my surprise when some years ago I saw a cougar here at the house, something totally unexpected. Nice posting.

    Like

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