February 23, 2011
Rare but Real: 8 Mountain Lions in One Trail Cam Photo
By Chad Love
This image of eight mountain lions in one photo that has gone viral is rare, but real, according to this story in the Tri-City (Wash.) Herald:
A Wenatchee hunter has a right to be proud for his photo showing a pride of mountain lions on the Douglas County ranch where he has permission to hunt.The black and white trail-cam image, which shows eight cougars in one spot, has gone viral in Northwest websites and e-mail lists since he first released it to acquaintances on Christmas Day. Wildlife enthusiasts were in awe of the scene, which few people will see in their lifetimes. Alarmists were ready to take up arms against the lion onslaught on the Central Washington deer population.
Skeptics assumed it was just another Internet hoax -- at best just a hungry pen of cougars in a zoo. But a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist who received a CD of this photo and all of the hunter's remote camera cougar images raised his eyebrows and called it, "a magnificent one-time observation; not unheard of, but it's very rare." "Cougars are notoriously territorial," said Jon Gallie, the state wildlife biologist in Wenatchee. "Seeing eight in one spot is a wildlife jackpot."
"I'd like to say I knew what I was doing, but I just got lucky," said Brad, the hunter who asked that his last name be withheld. "I was trying to get photos of bobcats. "But this is the second year I've had a (motion-activated) camera in that location and I've got images of some coyotes, about five deer and one skunk, but I can't tell you how many pictures I have of cougars -- a lot." Most of the e-mails circulating say the cougars were congregating to feed on a dead cow. But Brad and Gallie both confirmed there was no carcass in the area.