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How Many Mountain Lions Are Too Many?

Terence P. Jeffrey on

I saw it by accident.

I was sitting in the kitchen at my family's ranch in the high foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains -- not far from Yosemite National Park.

I got up to refill my water glass and looked out the window behind the kitchen sink. About a hundred yards away -- across an upward-sloping field of yellowed grass -- stood a rectangular chicken house.

My older brother and his wife, who operated the ranch, raised the best chickens you could ever eat in that humble shed. They were organically fed and spent their days roaming around a fenced-in area just outside their hillside home.

When my water glass was full, I turned off the faucet -- and then saw something move on the yellow-grass slope leading up to the shed. It stopped. Then it moved again.

Was that a mountain lion crawling through the grass toward those well-fed chickens?

 

It was.

Had that mountain lion not moved, I would never have seen it. Its coat of fur was a perfect match for the grass through which it crept.

Nor was there any doubt what that mountain lion wanted: a chicken lunch.

On this occasion, he did not get it. The fence protecting those chickens did its job.

...continued

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