Coyotes, Mountain Lions, and Bears, Oh My!

The Beast in the Garden: The True Story of a Predator’s Deadly Return to Suburban America


“Reads like a crime novel . . . each chapter ends on a cliff-hanging note.”?Seattle Times

When residents of Boulder, Colorado, suddenly began to see mountain lions in their backyards, it became clear that the cats had returned after decades of bounty hunting had driven them far from human settlement. In a riveting environmental tale that has received huge national attention, journalist David Baron traces the history of the mountain lion and chronicles one town’s tragic effort to coexist with its new neighbors. As thought-provoking as it is harrowing, The Beast in the Garden is a tale of nature corrupted, the clash between civilization and wildness, and the artificiality of the modern American landscape. It is, ultimately, a book about the future of our nation, where suburban sprawl and wildlife-protection laws are pushing people and wild animals into uncomfortable, sometimes deadly proximity.

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Close-up photo of a mountain lion. Backyard Wildlife
Watching…From the Edges of the Backyard

 

Lions and Bears in The Backyard, Oh My!

 

August, 2012

Many of our followers are aware that I have done a lot of security work over the years, and I still do. I’ve spent many sleepless nights on one type of patrol or another, and I’ve learned to notice many things that most people miss in the world all around them.

Last night I missed a chance to see a big mountain lion moving just a short distance from my solitary post. It was reported to me by an excited and breathless observer, who apparently had some trouble believing his own eyes. He just had to tell somebody, and I’m glad it was me.

The sighting took place on the black top and concrete of a two-track bridge over a cold, clear river in western Colorado, not far from the unfenced yards of several exclusive homes and the manicured grounds of a large country club and golf course. It seemed an unlikely spot to find such a magnificent predator, or so he thought. For his part, the tawny beast was no doubt chagrined to find himself caught in such an exposed and vulnerable position.

The lion enjoys good company as he hunts. Coyote, the all-seeing trickster grows more bold and opportunistic with each passing year, having learned long ago to take advantage of the nonchalance of the family pet. He may have learned it from the big cat. Likewise, encounters with black bears are increasing, as are people and bear conflicts. As a result we receive many complaints about coyotes and bears on the property that I roam, and it looks like it may become particularly bad in this time of terrible drought.

After all, we are surrounded by the rocky mountain west, with national forest and other undeveloped lands close at hand. Still, a mountain lion report is big and electrifying news which will surely surge throughout the small community by morning. This creature rules by stealth, and it is no surprise that most people have never seen one outside of a zoo or animal park.

I have been quite fortunate to study them several times in my adventures and wilderness travels. I’ve spied them without them seeing me, and I’ve noted their reaction when they realize they haven’t seen me first. I’ve hunted them several times, and have found myself standing with the bawling hounds under the killing tree, with an angry and snarling cougar above. I’ve followed their distinctive paw prints over hill and dale, and on more than one occasion found their tracks following me. I love to watch them under any circumstance, and to see them do their thing for any amount of time is an awe-inspiring experience that marks an indelible impression. I can see a stalking cat right now, in my mind.

What I don’t like is this long-tailed ghost watching me, particularly when I don’t know it. I have absolutely no doubt that it’s happened, countless times, at close range and but a primordial fang away. I’d take a bet that it’s happened to you too, if you have spent any significant amount of time in puma country. Fates can change quickly, as the tip of a cat’s tail twitches, measuring what to do. But of course, we will never really know, and it only adds to the mystery and magic of it all.

Sign Depicting What To Do When Encountering a Mountain Lion. Backyard Wildlife
Follow The Signs

 

I would have explained this to my wide-eyed mountain lion man, if I could have gotten a word in edgewise. There are some noteworthy visitors out there in the black night, just out of reach of headlight beams or human consciousness.

Think about that the next time you enjoy a hike on a shadowy mountain trail in a quaking aspen grove, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up for some unknown reason. You may wish to honor that sense. It’s there for a purpose.

Keep it in the back of your mind the next time you go out at night to check on your chickens or other animals in your backyard or back forty. Catch a breath, and take a second to wonder about what just made a nearly silent footfall, behind or above.

The possibility of a lion nearby reminds us of the wilds at the edges, and grounds us in the realities of the natural world. It’s an unsettling thought for some, and one that many of us have to live with when we spend time in the places that we love. Still, I would rather live where I live knowing that a mountain lion lives here too, rather than in a place known to have no mountain lions, and wishing that it did.

It’s a reality I am happy to accept, in the hope of but a quick glimpse, in the corner of an eye.

Michael Patrick McCarty

Game Camera Photograph of Mountain Lion at Night. Backyard Wildlife
Things That Go Bump In The Night

 

Update: October 17, 2012

Game trail cameras are an invaluable tool for those wishing to document the comings and goings of our wild neighbors, particularly in those magic hours between dusk and dawn. Strategically placed, they can capture a delightful display of animal movements not otherwise observed. It’s great entertainment, with the promise of true surprise within easy reach. My anticipation of the next photo or the next video can barely be contained. You never really know what you’re gonna get…

We use several cameras scattered about the property, which we move on a regular basis. Our main interest lies in the activities of the creatures with two legs. We watch for trespass, intrusion, and foul play. That, of course, is a story for another time. Animal sightings are the bonus feature to the main event.

Today’s review of the image collection was no exception. They held the usual cast of characters. Marmots, foxes, and inquisitive raccoons. Wandering pets, and the occasional biker. One frame held the faint outline of a bear in the shadows, and another the up close face of a young mule deer.

And as you may have guessed by now, one camera captured a video segment of a mature lion on the prowl. At first there was nothing but the wide emptiness of the night, then the world lit up as the beams of infrared caught the ghostly figure like the flashes from an electronic campfire.

He was big and long and solidly built, with well-defined muscles that rippled on his bones as he padded easily back to who knows where. No doubt he had used this route before.

A house loomed large here too, just out of camera range. I know, because I set the camera there myself.

My reaction was sharp, and visceral. It’s one thing to hear someone else talk excitedly about their sighting and personal experience. You want to believe, yet, there’s always a little room for doubt in undocumented reports. It’s quite another matter when you actually see a lion for yourself, or have indisputable evidence in hand.

Real is real, and but a moment away from memory. It is undefinable proof of the untamed mystery of our realm, accessible to all just inches from the comforts of our daily routines.

I shall do my best to stay out of the big cat’s path and unseen wanderings, yearning, for his eventual return.

Hunt well, my friend.

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*Update August 27, 2013

There is not a week goes by that someone does not ask if we have had any puma reports, and I must say, I’m a bit anxious myself. The leaves in the high county are beginning to turn color already, far too early it would seem, and it won’t be long before the early snows are as high as an elk’s belly and the mule deer are headed for the lower valleys along the river. The big cats are sure to follow, and it is then that there is a fair chance to record them on a well placed trail camera. We hope that the hunting is good this season, for us, and for mountain lions everywhere.

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By Michael Patrick McCarty

Food Freedom, and Guns Too!

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Comments? Tell us about your Mountain Lion experience.

Organic Farm to be Forcibly Sprayed with Roundup

Azure Standard

Dear Azure Customers. We’ve some extremely urgent news to share with you. All of Azure Standard’s Organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef is grown by Azure Farm on 2,000 acres of pristine, organically certified land in Sherman County, Oregon. The county is considering imposing draconian, highly toxic weed management laws and may force us to have our 2,000 acre organic farm sprayed with Roundup and other toxic herbicides. You read that right: we’d be forced to have our organic farm sprayed with Roundup, and we would then be forced to foot the bill! We’ve just over 1 week to get as much support as possible. Please review the video at https://vimeo.com/216920516 or learn more at https://www.azurestandard.com/healthy-li…/…/azure-farm-moro/ and then take action today. Thank you for your support!

An Organic Farm Under Threat from Azure Standard on Vimeo.

An Organic Farm Under Threat

Azure Farms is a working, Certified Organic farm located in Moro, Central Oregon, in Sherman County. It has been Certified Organic for about 18 years. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County is changing the interpretation of its statutory code from controlling noxious weeds to eradicating noxious weeds. These weeds include Morning Glory, Canada Thistle, and Whitetop, all of which have been on the farm for many years, but that only toxic chemicals will eradicate.

Organic farming methods – at least as far as we know today – can only control noxious weeds—it is very difficult to eradicate them.

What’s Happening?

Sherman County may be issuing a Court Order on May 22, 2017, to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the whole farm with poisonous herbicides, contaminating them with Milestone, Escort and Roundup herbicides…

Read the Rest of The Article, including Ways To Take Action,  Here

The Government Is Still the Enemy of Freedom

Battlefield America: The War On The American People


Police forces across the United States have been transformed into extensions of the military. Our towns and cities have become battlefields, and we the American people are now the enemy combatants to be spied on, tracked, frisked, and searched. For those who resist, the consequences can be a one-way trip to jail, or even death. Battlefield America: The War on the American People is constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead’s terrifying portrait of a nation at war with itself. In exchange for safe schools and lower crime rates, we have opened the doors to militarized police, zero tolerance policies in schools, and SWAT team raids. The insidious shift was so subtle that most of us had no idea it was happening. This follow-up to Whitehead’s award-winning A Government of Wolves, is a brutal critique of an America on the verge of destroying the very freedoms that define it. Hands up!?the police state has arrived.
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hands in handcuffs. police state tyranny freedom
Don’t Want No Shackles on Me

 

By John W. Whitehead
March 06, 2017

My friends, we’re being played for fools.

On paper, we may be technically free.

In reality, however, we are only as free as a government official may allow.

We only think we live in a constitutional republic, governed by just laws created for our benefit.

Truth be told, we live in a dictatorship disguised as a democracy where all that we own, all that we earn, all that we say and do—our very lives—depends on the benevolence of government agents and corporate shareholders for whom profit and power will always trump principle. And now the government is litigating and legislating its way into a new framework where the dictates of petty bureaucrats carry greater weight than the inalienable rights of the citizenry.

We’re in trouble, folks.

Freedom no longer means what it once did.

This holds true whether you’re talking about the right to criticize the government in word or deed, the right to be free from government surveillance, the right to not have your person or your property subjected to warrantless searches by government agents, the right to due process, the right to be safe from soldiers invading your home, the right to be innocent until proven guilty and every other right that once reinforced the founders’ belief that this would be “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Not only do we no longer have dominion over our bodies, our families, our property and our lives, but the government continues to chip away at what few rights we still have to speak freely and think for ourselves.

If the government can control speech, it can control thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry.

The unspoken freedom enshrined in the First Amendment is the right to think freely and openly debate issues without being muzzled or treated like a criminal.

In other words, if we no longer have the right to tell a Census Worker to get off our property, if we no longer have the right to tell a police officer to get a search warrant before they dare to walk through our door, if we no longer have the right to stand in front of the Supreme Court wearing a protest sign or approach an elected representative to share our views, if we no longer have the right to protest unjust laws by voicing our opinions in public or on our clothing or before a legislative body—no matter how misogynistic, hateful, prejudiced, intolerant, misguided or politically incorrect they might be—then we do not have free speech.

What we have instead is regulated, controlled speech, and that’s a whole other ballgame.

Protest laws, free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors are conspiring to corrode our core freedoms purportedly for our own good.

For instance, the protest laws being introduced across the country—in 18 states so far—are supposedly in the name of “public safety and limiting economic damage.”

Don’t fall for it.

No matter how you package these laws, no matter how well-meaning they may sound, no matter how much you may disagree with the protesters or sympathize with the objects of the protest, these proposed laws are aimed at one thing only: discouraging dissent.

In Arizona, police would be permitted to seize the assets of anyone involved in a protest that at some point becomes violent.

In Minnesota, protesters would be forced to pay for the cost of having police on hand to “police” demonstrations.

Oregon lawmakers want to “require public community colleges and universities to expel any student convicted of participating in a violent riot.”

A proposed North Dakota law would give drivers the green light to “accidentally” run over protesters who are blocking a public roadway. Florida and Tennessee are entertaining similar laws.

Pushing back against what it refers to as “economic terrorism,” Washington wants to increase penalties for protesters who block access to highways and railways.

Anticipating protests over the Keystone Pipeline, South Dakota wants to apply the governor’s emergency response authority to potentially destructive protests, create new trespassing penalties and make it a crime to obstruct highways.

In Iowa, protesters who block highways with speeds posted above 55 mph could spend five years in prison, plus a fine of up to $7,500. Obstruct traffic in Mississippi and you could be facing a $10,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence.

A North Carolina law would make it a crime to heckle state officials. Under this law, shouting at a former governor would constitute a crime.

Indiana lawmakers wanted to authorize police to use “any means necessary” to breakup mass gatherings that block traffic. That legislation has since been amended to merely empower police to issue fines for such behavior.

Georgia is proposing harsh penalties and mandatory sentencing laws for those who obstruct public passages or throw bodily fluids on “public safety officers.”

Virginia wants to subject protesters who engage in an “unlawful assembly” after “having been lawfully warned to disperse” with up to a year of jail time and a fine of up to $2,500.

Missouri wants to make it illegal for anyone participating in an “unlawful assembly” to intentionally conceal “his or her identity by the means of a robe, mask, or other disguise.”

Colorado wants to lock up protesters for up to 18 months who obstruct or tamper with oil and gas equipment and charge them with up to $100,000 in fines.

Oklahoma wants to create a sliding scale for protesters whose actions impact or impede critical infrastructure. The penalties would range from $1,000 and six months in a county jail to $100,000 and up to 10 years in prison. And if you’re part of an organization, that fine goes as high as $1,000,000.

Michigan hopes to make it easier for courts to shut down “mass picketing” demonstrations and fine protesters who block entrances to businesses, private residences or roadways up to $1,000 a day. That fine jumps to $10,000 a day for unions or other organizing groups.

Ask yourself: if there are already laws on the books in all of the states that address criminal or illegal behavior such as blocking public roadways or trespassing on private property—because such laws are already on the books—then why does the government need to pass laws criminalizing activities that are already outlawed?

What’s really going on here?

No matter what the politicians might say, the government doesn’t care about our rights, our welfare or our safety.

How many times will we keep falling for the same tricks?

Every despotic measure used to control us and make us cower and fear and comply with the government’s dictates has been packaged as being for our benefit, while in truth benefiting only those who stand to profit, financially or otherwise, from the government’s transformation of the citizenry into a criminal class.

Remember, the Patriot Act didn’t make us safer. It simply turned American citizens into suspects and, in the process, gave rise to an entire industry—private and governmental—whose profit depends on its ability to undermine our Fourth Amendment rights.

Placing TSA agents in our nation’s airports didn’t make us safer. It simply subjected Americans to invasive groping, ogling and bodily searches by government agents. Now the TSA plans to subject travelers to even more “comprehensive” patdowns.

So, too, these protest laws are not about protecting the economy or private property or public roads. Rather, they are intended to muzzle discontent and discourage anyone from challenging government authority.

These laws are the shot across the bow.

They’re intended to send a strong message that in the American police state, you’re either a patriot who marches in lockstep with the government’s dictates or you’re a pariah, a suspect, a criminal, a troublemaker, a terrorist, a radical, a revolutionary.

Yet by muzzling the citizenry, by removing the constitutional steam valves that allow people to speak their minds, air their grievances and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world, the government is deliberately stirring the pot, creating a climate in which violence becomes inevitable.

When there is no steam valve—when there is no one to hear what the people have to say, because government representatives have removed themselves so far from their constituents—then frustration builds, anger grows and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation.

Then again, perhaps that was the government’s plan all along.

As John F. Kennedy warned in March 1962, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

The government is making violent revolution inevitable.

How do you lock down a nation?

You sow discontent and fear among the populace. You terrorize the people into believing that radicalized foreigners are preparing to invade. You teach them to be non-thinkers who passively accept whatever is told them, whether it’s delivered by way of the corporate media or a government handler. You brainwash them into believing that everything the government does is for their good and anyone who opposes the government is an enemy. You acclimate them to a state of martial law, carried out by soldiers disguised as police officers but bearing the weapons of war. You polarize them so that they can never unite and stand united against the government. You create a climate in which silence is golden and those who speak up are shouted down. You spread propaganda and lies. You package the police state in the rhetoric of politicians.

And then, when and if the people finally wake up to the fact that the government is not and has never been their friend, when it’s too late for peaceful protests and violence is all that remains to them as a recourse against tyranny, you use all of the tools you’ve been so carefully amassing—the criminal databases and surveillance and identification systems and private prisons and protest laws—and you shut them down for good.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, once a government assumes power—unconstitutional or not—it does not relinquish it. The militarized police are not going to stand down. The NSA will continue to collect electronic files on everything we do. More and more Americans are going to face jail time for offenses that prior generations did not concern themselves with.

The government—at all levels—could crack down on virtually anyone at any time.

Martin Luther King saw it coming: both the “spontaneous explosion of anger by various citizen groups” and the ensuing crackdown by the government.

“Police, national guard and other armed bodies are feverously preparing for repression,” King wrote shortly before he was assassinated. “They can be curbed not by unorganized resort to force…but only by a massive wave of militant nonviolence….It also may be the instrument of our national salvation.”

Militant nonviolent resistance.

“A nationwide nonviolent movement is very important,” King wrote. “We know from past experience that Congress and the President won’t do anything until you develop a movement around which people of goodwill can find a way to put pressure on them… This means making the movement powerful enough, dramatic enough, morally appealing enough, so that people of goodwill, the churches, laborers, liberals, intellectuals, students, poor people themselves begin to put pressure on congressmen to the point that they can no longer elude our demands.

“It must be militant, massive nonviolence,” King emphasized.

In other words, besides marches and protests, there would have to be civil disobedience. Civil disobedience forces the government to expend energy in many directions, especially if it is nonviolent, organized and is conducted on a massive scale. This is, as King knew, the only way to move the beast. It is the way to effect change without resorting to violence. And it is exactly what these protest laws are attempting to discourage

We are coming to a crossroads. Either we gather together now and attempt to restore freedom or all will be lost. As King cautioned, “everywhere, ‘time is winding up,’ in the words of one of our spirituals, corruption in the land, people take your stand; time is winding up.”

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See Mr. Whitehead’s original article here.

Reposted with permissions by Michael Patrick McCarty

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“Go Forward With Courage”

Pocono Chief White Eagle Quote. Gull Flying into Fog
Gull Flying Into The Rising Mists

 

“When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelope you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists — as it surely will. Then act with courage”.

 

Pocono Chief White Eagle

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

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A Journal of Honest Food, Freedom, and The Natural World