This stare down between a mountain lion and a house cat happened last week, in the foothills of Boulder, Colorado. Here’s what they said:
Cat: Tough luck about that glass door, eh?
Mountain lion: Guess you won’t be coming out for fresh air anymore, eh?
Cat: I’m cool. I don’t mind mind watching Wild Kingdom from in here.
Mountain lion: What about your owner? She going to stay inside forever, too?
Cat: You don’t scare us!
Mountain Lion: Be seeing you”¦
I feel blessed
Yeah, I wonder how she’ll feel next time she spots the big kitty eyeballing her when she’s reading the paper on that lovely porch or walking to her car in the driveway.
(Photo: The Denver Post | Gail J. Loveman)
That was the headline of a book review I wrote years ago about Boulder, Colorado being stalked by mountain lions. When I briefly lived there in the late 2000s, some of the natives (okay, they were my colleagues) sniggered at my histrionic fears.
Now it looks like the wildlife in Boulder is getting even peskier. Check out this hilarious dispatch from Jonathan Thompson, a former editor of mine at High Country News. He shares some of his recent encounters, such as this one:
A couple of weeks after I arrived in Boulder, I was riding down a path when I turned a corner and the path appeared to be covered by a beige, many-headed, writhing monster, forcing me to lock up my brakes. The monster turned out to be a pack of prairie dogs that had taken up residence on either side of path. Later, when I mentioned the incident to acquaintance, she asked: “Are you for the prairie dogs? Or against them?” Wildlife politics in Boulder are often much more dangerous than the wildlife itself. Boulder prohibits the killing of the prevalent prairie dogs sans permit, yet some of them have been known to carry the plague (a serious downer for a Boulder fitness regime). So, some folks want them relocated; others say no. It’s a heated, sometimes just weird, (even weirder) debate. I don’t think the fact that Boulder’s prairie dogs will be the subject of a climate change study will ease the tension.
I’m telling you, even the big alpha rats in New York City, my natural habitat, know their place in the pecking order. I miss Boulder dearly, but the people there are in danger of loving their cutesy nature a little too much.
A nudist couple living in north Boulder is complaining about discrimination after being asked by their landlord to “dress appropriately” when outside of their unit.
To this general combustibility its southeast corner adds a pattern of seasonal winds, associated with cold fronts, that draft scorching, unstable air from the interior across whatever flame lies on the land. At such times the region becomes a colossal channel that fans flames which, for scale and savagery, have no equal on earth.
Still, even Pyne calls Saturday’s fires a “horror.” And that speaks volumes. As he notes, “Australia has filled the weekly calendar with Red Tuesdays, Ash Wednesdays, Black Thursdays, and is having to re-number its sequals. There was a black Saturday on February 12, 1977, but Black Saturday II is a bad bushfire on steroids.”
Pyne’s essay should be required reading for people living in flammable landscapes and especially for the planners, politicians and land managers that shape the built landscapes of these vulnerable communities. The bottom line, he writes:
With or without global warming or arson, damaging fires will come, spread as the landscape allows and inflict damage as structures permit. And it is there – with how Australians live on the land – that reform must go.
What this means, he insists, is fighting fire with fire:
The choice is whether skilled people should backburn or leave fire-starting to lightning, clumsies and crazies.
Over at Resilience Science, however, Garry Peterson says that Pyne “understates the change in settlement patterns, as increasing number of people live in ex-urban areas that complicate fire management.”
Hmm, from where I’m sitting (Boulder, Colorado), that certainly is true. Should the arid Southwest, with its own drought woes, growing ex-urban population, and fire-starved landscape, pay close attention to Australia’s agony?
Residents in Boulder, Colorado got spanked by their sheriff this weekend, for their chuckle-headed behavior during a January 7 fire that forced the evacuation of 25,000 people. At a community meeting, the lawman chastised homeowners
who filled pickup trucks with numerous personal items and left them parked in front of their driveways until they had to evacuate. That delayed rescue and notification attempts by firefighers.
Touching on a problem all too common in the West, the sheriff also was concerned that Boulderites
aren’t taking preventive measures around their property to keep fires at bay, such as clearing brush and stacking firewood away from decks.
Boulder residents better wise up or they’ll be on their own next time around. “If you don’t want to help yourself, we’ll just walk away. I’m serious about it,” the sheriff warned, according to the Denver Post.
But the message may well have gotten through, if anyone is paying attention to the news out of Australia.