August 17, 2013

Allen Afield: Bike comes in handy when foiling a pit bull

By Ken Allen

(Continued from page 1)

"Look ... a mountain lion!" I yelled, or some such words.

The cat disappeared into the woods, so I marked the spot in my mind and several seconds later, stopped my truck there. An old tote road went into the woods, and 60 feet away, we saw a yellow Lab sitting in the two-track logging artery with its tongue hanging out. If he hadn't waited for us to see it a second time, I'd have sworn to this day that we had seen a mountain lion.

The second cougar sighting occurred on the Back Road in Lexington, east of Sugarloaf, about 25 years ago. On a bright, sunny day with a west wind, a small mountain lion ran across this dirt road, heading into the breeze. The feline just didn't act wild enough, though, so it struck me that the critter was an escaped pet -- an opinion from a layman, not a biologist.

These anecdotes exemplify typical mountain lion sightings in the Pine Tree State -- just a straight mistaken identity or an escaped pet cougar, which reminds me of a story from the 1980s. A man with a mountain lion was allowing his pet to run around Sugar Island on Moosehead Lake, where it couldn't run off beyond the shore, making me wonder how many open-water anglers had seen it and still tell their "wild" cougar tale.

Many stories, particularly ones involving mountain lions, usually seem too perfect to be true, and snarling, growling cats on high ledges in dark, woodland settings fill the narratives.

I've seen two cougars in this state, two more than most Mainers, and both sightings have a sane explanation. Also, I've had lots of experience with mountain lions while shooting photos of them in controlled settings.

Ken Allen, of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at:


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