Common Sense: 1, Mountain Lion: 0

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I remember doing a story during the fair about the "Mountain Lion Mania" show at the Sundholm Center.

The presenter talked about the last known citing of a mountain lion in the area, and how many of the more recent "sightings" are actually domestic house cats or dogs.

Not even a month later, the Des Moines Register reads, "Mountain lion shot: Des Moines police Thursday morning shot a young male mountain lion in a Des Moines neighborhood."

According to the article, 65-year-old Jim Egan was planning to uneventfully carry some blankets to his greenhouse to keep the plants warm when the weather turned later in the day.

The 100-pound mountain lion was waiting for him in the greenhouse.

Egan called 911, and when the lion moved to bolt, the police shot the cat with a shotgun, killing him.

The minute I read this headline, I thought back to the story I wrote. The irony practically slapped me in the face. Yes, this is the first time that Des Moines police have killed a mountain lion, but the timing couldn't have been more perfect.

Even though Des Moines is in our vicinity, and even though this siting actually turned out to be accurate, I won't worry.

Is there a threat? Threat is such a strong word. There is a caution, absolutely, given our natural landscape. However, (knock on wood) I don't see myself coming into contact with one any time soon.

What's the moral of the story? Yes, these things do happen. But, the chances of a happy ending is far greater if common sense is employed.

My high school chemistry teacher had one rule for his class: "Don't do stupid things." Not only a good motto for mixing toxic substances, but a good motto for life.

Egan did not do anything stupid: He stayed calm (at least, as calm as he could in the situation -- I'm sure some level of anxiety is inevitable), he called police and the DNR, and he didn't try to run away. These slow, measurable actions likely saved his life.

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