A-h-h-h yes! My "Ode to Joy" for rural living. I move to Minden. The closest thing to town living that I have done in a longer time than I care to count. But, last night I had a close encounter of the first time, having never experienced this particular scenario, in all my years of country living.
Last night, I was busy unloading box after box of books and paper work, trying to set my office in order so I could work again. As I carted a bunch of empty boxes to the garage, I heard a strange scratching sound on the back outer door of the garage. Thinking it was the neighbor's Siamese cat, that I have yet to befriend, I flipped on the back outdoor light and cautiously cracked open the back door. I thank God for caution, on my part because, it took me a split second to realize I was looking at the business end of a skunk, poised and ready for the strike (or should I say spray?) Well, all I can say is, "You may be able to take the girl out of the country but you can never get this girl too far away from it, I guess." Whew! Too close for comfort this time.
And, speaking of close encounters, I guess our resident mountain lion is back from the higher elevations of the Pine Nuts and making itself at home again in TRE. This seems to be a yearly occurrence for residents as I had my first introduction to its visits within months of moving to TRE in July of 2003. Same one or an offspring? Don't know, but, I do know that at least one has made itself at home during the late summer to early fall every year since I have lived in TRE.
Wendy Francis, who raises Borzoi dogs and lives on Gray Hills Road said, "last night, (Sept. 13), my dogs were going nuts and wanted outside."
"With a fenced back yard, since we have Borzoi, I don't worry too much if a bear or coyote comes by, but, this morning we noticed a large paw print by our fence that looked like a big cat. I went to the Internet to see if our suspicions were correct, and yep, there was a mountain lion paw print by our fence. The print was a good 3.5 to 4 inches wide, so it's a fairly good sized cat. The only way we saw the print is because my husband just washed out some paint brushes that day and the ground was still wet," she said. "Now when 'my girls' want to go out at night, I'll make sure they go out together, safety in numbers, especially with Borzoi."
So, whether it be TRE, Minden, Genoa or Johnson Lane, for as much as Douglas County has built up, it doesn't matter, we still live in a rural area. And, along with the rural beauty we all enjoy, we do need to share it with a variety of rural inhabitants. My "Pepé LePew" encounter last night should not have come as any great surprise to me as the big open fields of the Mack Ranch are only three blocks away from where I live now. The alley way between County Road and Mono Avenue has been ravaged many times in the last few weeks by a bear in search of a bedtime snack. Of course we are going to have four legged visitors. Douglas County is still a rural area and what we offer as humans... garbage cans, exposed pet food, etc., attracts most animals. This is not necessarily true for the mountain lion though.
After Wendy's mountain lion report, I called Nevada Division of Wildlife and spoke with Furbearer/Predator Specialist Kevin Lansford. He was kind enough to explain the do's and don'ts of living with our feline predators.
"Unlike bears, who search out the easy food source, lions are predators who's major preference in food source is deer. They are picky about what they eat, even after a kill as big as a deer, they only feed on it for about three days. Once it turns bad, they want nothing to do with it," he said. "The odds of being attacked by a mountain lion are as rare as getting struck by lightning...twice. Mountain lions are loners, secretive and usually don't hang around, for long, anywhere that is inhabited by humans."
A mountain lion attack on a human is usually the result of them protecting their young or their food source. The last known attack in Nevada, resulting in injury, was a woman in 1990.
"Of 80 percent sighting reports of mountain lion, only 20 percent turn out to really be a lion," he said.
For more mountain lion information go to Web site www.ndow.org and if you believe you have a mountain lion hanging around as a predation threat call the game warden dispatch at (775) 688-1331.
In the mean time...may our rural Nevada just keep on keepin' on.