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When animals, humans clash

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There have been lots of stories about animal encounters recently.

In one that gained national coverage, Travis Kauffman went mano a mano, or actually mano a pata (hand to paw) against an attacking mountain lion in Colorado. The pair tussled for up to five minutes, before Kauffman was able to take his foot and jam down on the predator’s throat, eventually strangling the cat.

The mountain lion was found to be a juvenile, around half the size of a full-grown male. Kauffman’s wrist was clenched in the jaws of the young lion for the majority of the fight, and Kauffman ended the bout with 28 stitches and several days of hospital stay.

Then, we had another attack upon a man. This time, a black panther was accused of taking on a man near the Grand Strand of South Carolina. 

First, there is no such thing as a black panther. A panther, also known as a mountain lion or cougar, is not capable of having a gene to cause it to be black. Second, the only cats that can do that are the jaguar which can be found in Mexico and Central America, with occasional occurrences in Arizona and New Mexico, or the leopard, which would have had to swim across the Atlantic from Africa.

Emergency personnel responded to a call in which Rickey Wesley Lynch proclaimed he was attacked by the black cat that was waist-high in height, and had a tail that drug the ground. The cat pulled him into a ditch around the same time he saw a cub. While he was being pulled across the ground, his head hit a rock and he also suffered some superficial cuts and abrasions.

However, the next day, Mr. Lynch admitted to making the story up to officials, and was later charged with falsifying a police report and a breach of peace. Sheriff’s deputies and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources spent hours searching the area for both the animal and tracks with no avail before Lynch changed his story.

Meanwhile, a North Carolina teacher suffered a worse fate in an animal attack in the Pantego area. Brenda Hamilton, 77, passed away from her injuries from an unknown animal attack.

After the attack, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, and North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission officers and a biologist investigated the attack, trying to determine exactly what had happened. After initial DNA testing, it was determined that no indigenous wildlife were to blame, and the investigation turned to possible domestic canines.

Canine DNA was later found. However, the testing doesn’t differentiate between domestic animals and wolves or coyotes. Wolves can be found in that portion of the state. On one news station’s web-based story, it included a video on “what to do if a mountain lion attacks”, garnering some attention.

And speaking of coyotes, data continues to show the spread and greater populations of coyotes throughout the state, as well as increased human/coyote interactions. Because of that, warnings have been issued that the winter months bring about two issues with coyotes.

One, the animals are searching for food. And by food, usually it means easy prey. Domesticated farm animals such as chickens, turkeys and guinea fowls are all fair game to a coyote, as well as young cats and other pets.

Second, it is also breeding season. Unlike the cartoon coyote that isn’t the brightest of the beasts, coyotes are actually pretty smart. They can learn your schedule with your pets as far as when you let them out at night. If you pet is not spayed or neutered, it is possible for a coyote to mate with a domestic dog. 

While February is the month of love, this may not be exactly what you are looking for.

Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.