For whom the bells toll

Monday, March 10, 2008

Due to recent reports of sightings in and around Cherokee of species of wild cats not normally native to this area (most notably mountain lions and bobcats), we urge area residents to be careful when being outside - especially at night or in the early morning hours when such creatures are known to roam.

Although nothing has been documented, mountain lion sightings have been reported near Railroad Creek on East Maple Street in Cherokee, and bobcat sightings have been reported in the Cherokee Golf & Country Club area, where Railroad Creek also meanders through.

With this in mind, a few pointers for public safety should be observed:

(1) When engaged in outdoor activities such as walking, jogging, golfing, fishing, or bicycling, small bells should be attached to shoelaces or clothing. This prevents humans from startling animals by making noise that warns the animal that humans are approaching, giving them time to move away. These wild animals prefer to avoid contact with humans whenever possible.

(2) It is wise to carry a can of pepper spray when in areas where these animals may be present. In case of close contact, the spray can be used to ward off an attack.

(3) Perhaps the most important point is to know what kind of cat is in the area. A good way to do this is to observe the droppings found along trails. Bobcat droppings will be small and contain small rodent fur and bones. Mountain Lion droppings will be larger and contain small bells and smell like pepper spray.

Happy Hiking!

(Editor's note: We thank the unknown author for this humorous, thought-provoking look at the hazzards of humans crossing paths with large, wild, carnivorous animals. Now, scat!)