Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Big Cats in Massachusetts

I've lived in western Massachusetts my entire life- quite a while in human years, a number of lifetimes in dog years. To someone from eastern and central MA I live out in the sticks. Both my former college roommate (Peabody, MA) and Kelly's best friend and former college roommate (Raynham, MA) are both eastern MA girls. Both of them were not comfortable in "the wilderness" of western MA when visiting.

I've always heard about the bobcats in the area. Several times we've had humongous cat paw prints in the snow in our backyard around the deck and leading back into the woods during bad winters when the bobcats have come close looking for food.

Recently on facebook, out in Webster MA, a woman posted pictures she'd taken of a mountain lion near her home. It reminded me of the Catamount Cat statue in Bennington. VT. The catamount cat is basically, a puma or mountain lion. I've always loved that statue because I've always loved the big cats at the zoo and the circus the best- although I always felt sad for them.

I live on a mountainside on the edge of the woods. There's a ravine behind us with a brook winding through it. Beyond the brook is more woodland and then shale cliffs to the top of the mountain. It's the kind of area where you might find a mountain lion. On the other side of the mountain are two reservoirs. On this side to the north is a series of ponds. There is game and water available.

We have black bears, coy dogs, coyotes, foxes, deer, a moose (that someone illegally killed a few years ago), fisher cats, woodchucks, skunks, eastern timber rattlesnakes, copperheads and assorted other snakes and the usual small rodents like chipmunks, squirrels (black and gray), moles, voles and field mice. I have never seen the bobcat. I have seen just about everything else, except the moose. Everything passes through our backyard because we do not have a fenced in yard. Our neighbors on either side have tall shrubs hedges as high as our houses. They run from the road to the woods, except in one place way out back. Animals come up the ravine and follow the path we have as access to the ravine and brook.

I wonder if one day I'll look out my kitchen window and see a mountain lion ambling through the back yard? I wouldn't be surprised as there was rumor of a lynx seen here in town about seven years ago. The big cats are out there but they're elusive.

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