Park Ranger William Baldwin recently reported the killing of five mountain lion in the vacinity of the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs in three consecutive days. Deer are very numerous in the low valleys at this time of the year due to the heavy snow in the hills. It is safe to say that with the elimination of these five 'killers' at least 100 of these deer will avoid appearing on their menus during the remainder of the winter. As Bill says, "that aint doing so worse, is it?".
Ranger Baldwin is a real mountaineer of the old school and a mighty valueable man on a district such as the Ohanapecosh. The account of the hunt which he mailed in has a peculiar woodsy flavor to it that we cant equal, so we quote Bill. His companion was Mr. C.H. McMillion, Biological Survey hunter for the lewis district.
"... at 12 oclock N. we had made it to a point about 1 mile below the hot springs, when we suddenly come upon the sign of 4 cougar. These cougar was traveling down the Ohanapecosh from the park. Mac gave the dogs the tracks and they was soon away on persuit of cat. We followed as fast as we could, wallowing thru the deep snow. After some time we came within hearing of the pups and could tell by their talk that they had a cougar up a tree. We crept up as quiet as we could but when we got close she left the tree, Mac taken a flying shot which missed.
The dogs had to tree this varmint three times before it would let us shoot it. This cougar proved to be an old female which had had kittens this past year.
Night was coming on and a storm was raging when we got this one skinned and we was compelled to make tracks for camp arriving there late. Next morning bright and early we was on our way to look for the other three cats. Late in the day we struck the trail of one lone cougar, Mac allowed his dogs to take the track. They was soon away on the hot scent of mountain lion. We followed on and soon herd them saying we have him up a tree. This cougar acted very nice and we approached near to the tree. This cat after being killed proved to be another old female but she showed no signs of having raised kittens the last year.
The third morning found us very early making our way back to the place where we had killed the first cougar to look for the other to. Upon arriving in that locality we was unable to find any recent sign of cougar but later found the carcass of a deer that had been killed and most all ate up. We hunted all around but could only find sign of what we thot was to young cougars made the day before. As we was unable to find fresh tracks Mac decided to let the dogs take the old trail and track them up. The dogs taken the scent and was soon away trailing out into some high cliffs and rocks. Lucky the cougars had not gone far - they never do when their bellys are full - and when the pups routed them they was all together. They was three cats in this bunch instead of to, as near as we could guess their age was about one year. They would measure about 6 feet as they lay on the ground with their tails stretched out. The old cougars measured about 7 feet the same way. One was a tom cat and the other to was females. The old female which we got the second day did not belong to the bunch of four which we saw sign of the first day. We have saw no further sign of cougar. Will Baldwin".
Apparently Bill got a mother cougar and her three last years kittens. Triplets are not unusual among the cat tribe and the ratio of one male to two female is well nigh universal.
Few of these giant cats have been reported in the park during this season altho deer are very numerous. During the week we visited a large beaver colony near the mouth of Tahoma creek and found the old trail of one small cougar, the only one reported from the Nisqually district this winter. There are at least fifty deer in that vacinity and it is likely that he will remain. If so we hope to add one more to Bills list.
In spite of the cold weather and three feet of snow we found the beaver quite active. Their tracks and cuttings were frequently seen.
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