Sunday, October 28, 2012

Close Encounters With a Mountain Lion (Patagonia, AZ)

The Preserve will be closed for the following week:
The Mountain Lion returned two nights ago while Dan and I were finishing our dinner. He was stalking a doe and her fawn.

We first saw the doe and fawn running by the front of our motorhome. They stopped just past our rig. Mama was looking very agitated by stamping her hooves and making a loud blowing or crying sound.
old photo
Her attention was towards the back of our rig. Dan saw him first...yes, we are quite sure it is the same Mountain Lion that Dan met on the trail.
Dan's photo from the trail
He was hunched down under the tree and he was focused on the deer. Within seconds of discovering the lion hiding so close to our rig, he leaped out at the doe and fawn. The doe took off towards the open fields while the fawn escaped into the woods behind the lion's hiding place.
Mountain Lion here
At first, it looked like the lion was going for the mother, but quickly changed his mind and disappeared into the woods where the fawn had gone.

For the next half hour, Mama wandered around the field making the same crying sound. It was so heart-breaking. I'm not sure if she was calling to her little one or still hoping to get the lion to come chase her. I know this is part of Mother Nature's circle of life, but to have this happen right in front of us...well, it was hard to accept. I have a hard enough time watching a wildlife show when it is following a predator on a hunt.

Right now, the realization that just hours before we were sitting outside with the cats and seeing this Mountain Lion so close to our is a little unnerving.  Dan and I have been walking together on the trails, thinking there was more of a chance of running into the lion on the trails.  We have heard stories of people sighting big cats (Bobcats) on the nature trail just across the field from us.  Doe and fawn have been passing by our motorhome almost every evening.  It never occurred to us that the Mountain Lion might follow the doe and fawn since there is plenty of game spread out over the 320 acres. 
The Following Morning:
Dan saw a doe cruising the edge of the woods - probably the mother looking for her fawn.

Dan along with the Preserve Manager, and his ranch cattle dog walked the entire preserve trail system, checked part of the creek, and checked the area where the cat and fawn had disappeared. No sign of the kill, if there is one. But the fawn was small, the cat large, so it could have eaten some and carried the rest off across the creek a distance - where the men did not go.

The Manager has closed the Preserve for at least one week to visitors. He may contact fish and game who may or may not come out for a look. I'm hoping they will just monitor the Mountain Lion and not kill him for doing what comes naturally.  He looks young and hasn't learned how dangerous us humans can be when threatened.  He hasn't shown any interest in humans, but he doesn't seemed to be skittish of us either.

Dan weed whacked more vegetation all around the motorhome - 30 yards out for a better visual range. Most of it was already mowed, except under the trees were overgrown with 3-4 foot tall grass.

In the meantime, kitties will not be allowed outside and we will be taking walks together with our pepper spray.


  1. Oh, that's tragic. I know, as you say, it's the natural way, but so sad to hear of the doe searching for her fawn.

  2. Next to grizzly bears, cougars scare me the most. Hopefully, he just sticks to the deer. It's frightening to know that there is a predator so close, especially if you have smaller dogs or young children.

    1. It is very frightening and we do get visitors with young children. No dogs allowed on the preserve, and the locals often walk their dogs on the dirt road along the preserve. There is a lot of game here with Havalina, coatimundi, and deer. As long as he is well fed, he will probably not bother the humans.

  3. Amazing story and great photos. Glad you're watching out for your cats!

    1. Thanks Artisanallunwound! Definitely! I do not want to lose a cat to the big guy or to any other predator. I love my kitties!

  4. oh my!!! How scary!!!! Thank goodness that it didn't happen earlier when you were sitting outside. Keep the kitties and yourselves safe!

  5. I know they have a wide range but twice in such a short time is a bit scary.

  6. That is frightening! So glad that you are keeping the kitties inside.
    Stay safe! :)

    1. It was! I'm still a little nervous walking around our motorhome, but the big guy hasn't been sighted in a few days. We are hoping he has moved on and we can get back to a normal schedule.

  7. Oh gosh...I was hoping that the mountain lion would stay away, but I see it came back, and while on the hunt! This is very scary, and I'm glad you're not letting the cats out alone. I wouldn't go out alone either. It's so heartbreaking about the doe coming back, though...=(
    Be sure to update us on the big kitty situation!

  8. Oh my goodness! You lead an adventurous life! I love the photos, especially the one with the arrow. We really are only a piece of the cycle are we not?

    1. When we first started our adventure, I never dreamed it would be this wonderful. The experiences, the sights, the people, and everything I have learned from our travels...I would not trade in a single moment.


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