Tag: hunting

Montana’s Governor Killed A Mountain Lion In One Of The Cruelest Ways Imaginable

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has to go.

The so-called “avid hunter,” who once boasted of serving “mountain lion teriyaki, antelope chops wrapped in bacon, and elk tenderloin” to investment bankers visiting his home, apparently wanted to kill another puma so badly that he put the word out to fellow hunters.

On Dec. 28, one of those hunters caught sight of one of the large and elusive felids just a few miles outside of a protected area near Yellowstone. The hunter unleashed his hounds on the cat, who escaped up into a tree, and kept the dogs there for hours to prevent the puma from escaping while the Mighty Hunter Gianforte drove hours to the location, got out of his car and bravely shot the terrified animal at point blank range.

What Gianforte did was not hunting, according to retired physician, naturalist and outdoorsman E. Donnal Thomas Jr., a Montanan who is well known for writing about hunting and outdoor sports.

Driving to a place where quarry has already been trapped and shooting it is “the difference between a hunter and shooter,” Thomas told the Yellowstone Mountain Journal. “He didn’t hunt the lion and he didn’t have to hike for six hours to reach it. It sounds as if all he did was walk to the bottom of the tree, pull the trigger and kill it.”

Mountain lion in a tree
A mountain lion, also known as a puma and cougar, in a tree in Montana’s Little Belt Mountains. Credit: Forest Service Northern Region/Wikimedia Commons

The governor may have broken the law, and certainly violated ethical guidelines, by refusing to say anything about the “hunt” and having his press office ignore phone calls, emails and public records requests by journalists. That’s primarily the reason the story is breaking now, more than two months later: Journalists were finally able to track down people with firsthand knowledge of Gianforte’s “hunt” and corroborate the details with other people who were in the know.

Gianforte has had his share of hunting incidents in the past, including two incidents in which he broke the law, once for hunting an elk without a permit, and once for killing a wolf that was radio collared and actively tracked by scientists. (He was let off with a warning.)

In that incident, Gianforte killed the wolf after it ventured out of protected lands, as he did with the mountain lion, who was also wearing a tracking collar. The cat turned out to be a five-year-old male who was monitored by staff at Yellowstone park.

If you’re wondering why Gianforte’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he famously assaulted and body-slammed a Guardian reporter who made the mistake of doing his job and asking Gianforte — who was a congressional candidate at the time — about his healthcare policies.

“At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” wrote Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, who witnessed the assault. “Faith [Mangan, field producer], Keith [Railey, photographer] and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!'”

In an audio recording of the assault, an angry Gianforte screams “Get the hell out of here!” while the shocked reporter responds, “You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses!”

Hunting mountain lions should not be legal. There is no such thing as “too many mountain lions,” even by arbitrary federal standards, as the animals are rare, elusive, not hostile to humans and rarely harm people unless cornered or their cubs have been threatened. There have been between 15 and two dozen fatal encounters with mountain lions in the last century. By contrast, dogs kill an estimated 25,000 people a year.

While we refrain from discussing politics or ideology on PITB, primarily because we want all readers to feel comfortable as regulars on the site and we believe politics shouldn’t poison everything, we agree with writer Abigail Weinberg’s assessment:

“Puma. Cougar. Mountain lion. There are many names for the big cats that roam the Americas, rarely attacking humans.

But there’s only one name that springs to mind for Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte: Asshole.”

Montana, you can do better.


All images from Wikimedia Commons.

Day Four: The First of Many Fails

Buddy left the chubby house cat and the porch behind before dawn, putting some distance between him and the houses before seeking refuge in the woods where there would be no humans grabbing his tail or house cats looking at him with pity.

It was time to hunt. You know how to do this, Buddy told himself. You’re really good at it! Just stay calm and remember all the times you played hunting games with Big Buddy…

Buddy stalked the brush, listening for rodents and watching for the sudden movements of birds and squirrels. An hour passed, then two.

His tummy rumbled. He’d never thought about food so much in his life. Back home, it was just there, reliably plopped down in front of him several times a day. Chicken, salmon, beef, tuna, duck, shrimp and his beloved turkey. Pate, sauce and gravy. A different meal every time. If he didn’t like a meal he was served, he could meow in protest until he was given something different. He actually turned down perfectly good food! It seemed like a lifetime ago.

Now most of his waking moments were dedicated to food: Where to find it, how to get it and where he could eat it in peace. He thought of the dull pain of his empty stomach versus the risk of eating something he wasn’t sure of. His mouth watered at the scent of things he never would have eaten as a spoiled house cat.

There! Up ahead a squirrel crouched low in the brush, focused intently on something at the base of the tree.

Buddy slowed his gait, locking his eyes on his prey. He crouched, butt raised, waiting for just the right moment to…

Pounce!

Buddy was fast. The squirrel was faster. It sidestepped in a blur and was already scurrying up the tree when Buddy belatedly skidded to a halt and hit the trunk, getting a mouth full of bark for his efforts. Above, the squirrel chirped.

“I will have you for breakfast!” Buddy meowed. “Just you wait!”

But after circling the tree for several minutes, Buddy realized the squirrel was gone. It must have jumped to a branch from another tree.

Buddy collapsed in the brush, dejected. He was so hungry. He didn’t need to be picky: He’d eat anything without complaint at this point.

He started thinking of home, then quickly squashed the thoughts. He would not cry. He was a big boy, and big boys did not cry. Was his human out looking for him right now? What would happen if Buddy found his way home and his Big Bud wasn’t there? Would another cat take his place, eat from his bowl, knead on his blanket?

No, he told himself. Not in my house.

His ears pricked up. Beating wings. Slowing. A chirp.

Buddy bounded to his feet, ears swiveling like satellite dishes toward the direction of the sound as he padded slowly and silently.

The bird was plump and gray, and it was standing on a tree stump, picking at something between the crags of wood. Buddy had a light step — not a leaf was disturbed, not a branch snapped as he inched forward.

Just like we practiced at home, Buddy thought. Remember, you’re a great hunter! You have really big muscles! You’ve got this!

The tabby took off in a bolt of speed and energy, building momentum over two or three swift paces before he launched himself at his meal.

The bird panicked, realizing it was reacting too late. There was a shrill chirp, a beak unsuccessfully snapping at fur as Buddy scooped his prey up, and then they hit the ground hard, the birdie held tight with one paw as they tumbled in a cloud of dust, fur and feathers.

Sweet, sweet victory! Buddy thought. The thrill of the hunt!

Then he did what he always does after he wins at hunting games: He bounded up on his hind legs, jumped around happily and bobbled his prey. Except this prey saw its opportunity and took off.

buddyyawningjungle1
The mighty hunter roars!

“You’re telling me you caught the bird, then let him go?” Clyde asked, incredulous.

Their paths had crossed again at a joint known in the cat world as Chez Bacon: The bins behind a chain donut shop where cats could sometimes get lucky and find expired precooked breakfast sausages and soggy slices of bacon.

Buddy was defiant. “No! I just thought, you know, I had won and…”

“You were expecting a human to come out from behind a tree, tell you what a good boy you are and open a can for you?” Blackie meowed.

The two strays exchanged glances and laughed uproariously. Just when it felt like the laughter was dying down, one of them imitated a human — “Who’s a good boy? Does the good widdle boy want a can?” — and the howling began again. Clyde was rolling on the ground, slapping his paw against the dirt. Blackie was laughing so hard he was choking back tears.

Buddy considered asking them for help capturing the bird again, but by then he’d amplified the truth and told them he’d taken down a huge, vicious raptor that could have fed all three of them.

Clyde was still giggling when he sat up, wiped his moist eyes with the back of his paw, and coughed.

“We know a nice lady,” he said, turning to Bud. “She always feeds us when we come by.”

Buddy’s eyes lit up.

“But,” Blackie said, “a word of caution. The nice lady’s neighbor has some sort of demon dog.” He shuddered. “We’ll reconnoiter and if she’s there, we’ll lay low until the coast is clear.”

“What kind of food does the nice lady give you?” Buddy asked, his stomach churning.

“Sometimes it’s diced chicken, sometimes it’s scrambled eggs,” Clyde said.

“Love me some eggs, mmmhmmm!” Blackie said, skipping along through the trees.

“And sometimes,” Clyde continued, “it’s that nasty crunchy stuff that tastes like cardboard.”

Buddy stepped around a thorn bush. “You mean dry food? Dry food is good!”

Clyde gave him a pitying look.

“To a house cat like you, maybe,” he meowed. “But to a free-living lion of the jungle like myself, nothing tastes better than a mouse or a bird you’ve caught and killed yourself. You’ll see, kid, if you ever manage to catch something.”

They continued on in silence until Blackie stopped just short of a clearing ahead. He crouched low, scanning the area, then held up a paw.

“Back,” he whispered, retreating into the bushes in slow motion, careful not to give away their presence.

Buddy smelled the beast before he saw it. They were downwind of it, thankfully. It smelled of sweat, pee and tennis balls. And something else too. Something strange. If aggression had a scent, Buddy thought, this would be it.

A shadow moved beyond the clearing, then resolved into the pooch as it stepped out from beneath the leaf canopy. The dog was behemothic, all severe angles and stout muscle, with rivulets of mucusy saliva oozing from its open maw.

“Peggie the Pittie,” Clyde whispered, his dilated gaze never leaving the monster.

Peggie paused and lifted her snout, sniffing the air.

She smells us, Buddy thought. His fur stood up and his tail looked like a spiked club.

Sure enough, the tank of a dog fixed her gaze on the bushes where the feline trio was hiding and let loose a low growl.

One. Peggy’s front left paw hit the dirt, kicking up dust. Two. Her right paw slammed down, followed by thick strands of drool. Three. Her powerful hind legs followed, propelling her forward.

Her growl became a series of vicious barks as she picked up speed.

We’re gonna die, Buddy thought, paralyzed. We’re gonna die!

Cats: The Not-So-Ultimate Spider Hunters!

As if Australia doesn’t have enough terrifying critters, there’s the Huntsman spider, a big tarantula-looking monstrosity that welcomes itself into houses.

Luke Jones, who uploaded the below video to TikTok, says it’s “not unusual” to see them hanging onto walls or poking out from behind curtains, and they “get into everything, all the linen clothes on the bed.”

In his position I’d get a hermetically sealed chamber to use as my bedroom, but Luke’s got his own solution: Let his cat take care of the problem. In the video, a woman — presumably Luke’s girlfriend or wife — hoists the couple’s pet cat up so kitty can ruthlessly earn his keep as an exterminator half-heartedly paw at the spider:

Cats are famous for “playing” with their prey, so maybe what we’re seeing is an initially curious cat getting a close look at the Huntsman before unleashing a dose of feline whoop-ass.

One thing I know for sure: If I tried to get Buddy to play exterminator with a spider that large he’d go hide underneath a table.

Study: There Are 5 Types Of Cat Owners

When it comes to attitudes about hunting and impact on local wildlife, there are five broad categories of cat owners, a new study says.

Four out of the five aren’t particularly worried about their cats killing birds and small mammals, the University of Exeter researchers wrote in the study, which was published in Frontiers In Ecology and the Environment, a research journal.

  1. Concerned Protector. These are people who keep their cats indoors to keep them safe from the world. Their main worries are cats being stolen, lost or killed. They don’t have strong feelings about hunting behaviour and wouldn’t keep their cats indoors solely to stop them hunting.
  2. Freedom Defenders believe cats should be able to roam where they please, like wild animals. Cats hunting is a good sign of normal behaviour and helps control the rodent population. They oppose any restrictions of cat access to the outdoors.
  3. Tolerant Guardians believe that the benefits of roaming outweigh the risks of the cat being injured or lost. They love wildlife and cat hunting is the least attractive part of cat ownership, but it is just what cats do. They’re not sure how cat owners can effectively reduce hunting behaviour.
  4. Conscientious Caretakers believe cats should have access to the outdoors but they don’t oppose some containment. Hunting by cats really bothers them, and they particularly worry about birds. They believe owners should have have some responsibility managing their cat’s hunting behaviour.
  5. Lasseiz-faire landlords believes it’s natural for cats to want to go out into the natural world and if they fall foul of it (dogs, bigger cats, SUVs) that’s natural too. They’ve never seriously thought about the effects of cats on wildlife populations. They’d be more likely to manage their cat’s hunting behaviours if it was killing things all the time.

You can take a short quiz (16 multiple choice questions) to find out what kind of cat caretaker you are. For what it’s worth, the quiz says I’m a “conscientious protector,” which sounds about right.

cat-predation

In his mind, of course, Buddy is a fierce, powerful feline and a mighty hunter. In reality he’s hilariously inept at the hunting games we play, and no matter how many times I’ve brought him outside on his harness, he goes into sensory overload every time, spending the first 20 minutes nervously huddled before he relaxes, his tail shoots up and he starts to enjoy the new sights and smells.

Fortunately I don’t have to deal with a cat who pines for the outdoors. Bud has no desire to go out there on his own, and he won’t even step onto the balcony if it’s too hot, too cold, raining, snowing or especially windy.

Most of all it’s too dangerous out there between traffic, potential predators like coyotes, train tracks, other cats and people who will abuse or kill cats just because they can. I don’t want to lose my little Bud.

Dear readers, if you take the test, please let us know which category it placed you in.

Watch Adorable Black-Footed Kittens Enjoy Their Yums

Zoos around the US are closed because of the Coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean we have to miss out on the milestones of baby animals like the San Diego Zoo’s Ryder and Skyler, two black-footed kittens.

Black-footed cats are notable not only for their diminutive size — typically maxing out at two or three pounds — and their cuteness, but also for their astonishing hunting skills. The tiny terrors have voracious appetites and a 60 percent success rate when hunting. That eclipses the 25 percent success rate of lions, 32 percent success rate of domestic cats and the zero percent success rate of Buddy.

Ryder, a male, and Skyler, a female, were born in April. They haven’t started hunting yet, but they’ve now reached the stage where they’re eating meat instead of milk, as this video shows: