Wild Photos! cougars acting like a pride of lions

This is rather offbeat, but it does fit in with the “nature” and “puzzling things” portion of WUWT as indicated in the masthead.

These photos were emailed to me by the former Butte County Sheriff, Mick Grey, whom I have coffee with regularly. He’s had to deal with more than a few mountain lions in his career, and he’s never seen anything like this. Neither have I.

Bushnell IR Trail Cam

A woman who lives about 2-3 miles from Lake Oroville (about 25 miles southeast of my location) sent these pictures which were taken just 1 mile from Forbestown. A cow was found killed and the infrared trail cam (seen at left) was put in place to see what was preying on it.

[Correction: It seems both the Sheriff and I have been snookered by the person who emailed him. These photos are from Moses Coulee in central Washington. Thanks to WUWT reader Mark A. Story here:



My apologies to readers, however, the photos below are legit and still worth a look.]

You can count up to eight cats in one of the pictures. Who’d ever heard of eight cougars at a kill site? They’re starting to act more like a pride of lions than the solitary cougars they normally are.

Pictures follow. Here kitty kitty.


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Harry Bergeron

Well that sure puts an end to moonlight strolls thereabouts.

James Sexton

Can I be the first to say ….duh??

Al Gored

Amazing. With current regulations I assume the cougar population is at historic highs there, as in many other areas. But to have that many scavenging a carcass suggests that the supply of deer is declining or other wise unavailable there.
In any case, this many cougars is plenty for livestock raisers to worry about, particularly if their natural prey is scarce. One got a horse, two llamas, a calf and a dog near our place last year.
Oh, wait. Silly me. That unusual concentration of cougars must have been caused by AGW. Probably climate refugees or something. They must be going extinct. And they are probably the rare Lake Oroville Cougar, thus requiring a new task force to be established to save them. Like the Sacramento Valley Fox.


I think? it’s obvious she is feeding them, they didn’t drag the cow down in front of the camera.
Lots of cats though, wow.
REPLY: As I understand it the cow was killed, they noted it and put out the cam, this is the second night when the cats came back for the spoils. Even eight cats couldn’t drag away a cow, even if they cooperated. – A

P.G. Sharrow

This is why we used to have a bounty on them. They breed almost as fast as coyotes. pg

richcar 1225

A neighbor of mine in Golden, Colorado caught a photo of 5 mountain lions all laying down on a rocky slope at different heights in his back yard. It was scene that might have been filmed in Africa.


it is amazing to realize, that a 150 pound animal can take down a 1000 pound horse! just happened recently in Maple Ridge, just north of Vancouver. I understand they do it by waiting in a tree, and pouncing on the prey’s neck.

Mark Albright

Same pictures were in the news up in Washington about 5 days ago. Seems these cougar photos are likely from near Moses Coulee in central Washington on 23 Dec 2010:
REPLY: Well great, I guess the Sheriff and I have been had. It happens. That’s the value of having so many eyes on this blog. Anything that is in error gets pointed out right away. I’ll make a correction. My apologies to readers. – Anthony

Pat Frank

We’ve had several cougar sightings within the city limits of Palo Alto over the last 10-15 years. In 2004, one of them was shot from a tree in a neighborhood of central PA, a 100 meters or so from a school. There was the predictable outcry about killing a magnificent animal. I don’t recall any public outcry about endangered children, though.
Apparently, in 2008, another cougar attacked a man walking in Foothills Park, in the well-forested hills above Palo Alto. The man had a lucky escape.
It looks to me like the population has reached a ‘tipping point.’ That is, the cougar population has gotten high enough that there’s no longer enough open space left for individual territories. So, they’re forming prides to be more economical with space and kills.
I’d guess this is a survival strategy from times past when prey populations got too low. We’ve moderns have just never seen it.
On the other hand, maybe it’s time to lift the state ban on hunting mountain lions.


“Here kitty kitty”
O.T. comment, apologise:
I think Steven H. say that to NASA, blasting “messages” to aliens.
We are in a jungle (Galaxy) and scream: “Here kitty kitty …”

Russ Blake

Interesting pictures. However, being from Northern California, it’s a well known fact that the increased sightings of cougars, as well as a plethora of cow deaths recently, is due to man made climate change. Sarc?

[snip – off color, Anthony]

This is most interesting. I suspect the pride like activity has something to do with habitat restrictions and concentrations of food sources, i.e. farms; combined with lack of or limited hunting pressures on them.


Glad I live in Ohio! 😉

Mark Albright

This may be the original article in the Spokane WA newspaper on 17 Feb 2011 which explains that the pictures had been circulating on the internet for quite some time before this article appeared:

Pat Frank

Turns out the Foothills Park attack wasn’t forensically supported, although the hiker insisted it happened.


REPLY: As I understand it the cow was killed, they noted it and put out the cam, this is the second night when the cats came back for the spoils. Even eight cats couldn’t drag away a cow, even if they cooperated. – A
OK, now I get it, thanks for the reply.
Nothing like predatory cats in the grass to awaken the senses!

Bob in Castlemaine

O.T. With revolution in the air why not also in Australia. Socialists and Greens foreshadow economic suicide for the Australian economy (and standard of living).

Steve Koch

Wow, that is amazing! Mountain lions are very solitary animals (normally). If they start acting together, that would be bad news.


Is this pride behavior “unprecedented”? Is there proof that in the past cougars never formed prides?
A few yrears back when the Lorenz paradigm was rejected in biology, and biologists went back and rechecked their field notes they were surprised to discover a whole bunch of self censorship of OBVIOUS behavioral facts they had overlooked inorder to match the current meme of non aggression.


This is fantastic group of pictures.
It’s well known that Cougars are solitary creatures, So this gathering is obliviously caused by to much CO2 in the mountain air, sort of like popping the GLOBAL WARMING cork!
Just one more to add to the AGW list.

Mark Twang

Obviously, this would never happen without the pernicious inflewence of AAAGGGWW.
(They used to eat granola.)

Well, this is good practice for April Fools day, just over a month away.
Your’e not going to fool me this year Anthony. 🙂
(Your April Fools 2010 article seemed so plausible up till about 95 percent into it).


National Geographic had a special on recently about the first confirmed coyote kill of an adult human….in Atlantic Canada recently
The mother of the daughter killed was like “I just want to protect wildlife.”
Yet the proliferation of coyotes and their lack of fear of homo sapiens may have contributed to her daughter’s death (and her daughter was an artist….a nationally recognized folksinger who was just taking a hike in a national park.
Insanity…on behalf of her mom.
Norfolk, VA, USA

Pamela Gray

We’ve got cats all over the place in Wallowa County. My older sister insists that I “carry” when I go fishing. She’s probably right. I’m no bigger than a mid-morning snack, just to tied them over till something bigger comes along. But look, there is only so much a belt can carry. And it’s not like they make fishing stuff in mini-me sizes. I take my fishing seriously. If it comes down to the worms or the .357, the worms will win. Are cougars attracted to anise/peanutbutter/krill scent?


That is a beautiful sight. Not real comforting for a jogger or bicycle rider, but sitting here in my freezing Seattle winter wonderland, beautiful. Unless you’ve seen a full grown and healthy cougar in their world you cannot imagine the majesty and terror at once that you sense when in the presence these animals. Here in Washington I don’t fear bears but I do fear and respect cougars. They are very quiet when they’re working.

Darell C. Phillips

Pamela, I know you spell your last name with an “a” but do we start calling you “Pamela Grey Poupon” in your snack context? 😉

Gary Mount says: February 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm
“Well, this is good practice for April Fools day, just over a month away.”
Haven’t you heard? Due to budget cuts its been cancelled!

Sorry for what follows – best say up front!
I was just thinking about animal behaviour and the marking of territory. And suddenly realised that posting these messages on the forum may be related to that animal territory marking behaviour.
It is true we see very similar behaviour with marking of graffiti in towns.
Which may explain the “realclimate” behaviour. They are just showing typical instinctive behaviour when they “smell” another tribe coming onto their territory and so must immediately act to remove the smell by peeing all over it?


Something similar seems to be happening with coyotes.
Growing up in Saskatchewan, I was somewhat familiar with the behavior of coyotes. Until I was in my early twenties, I had seen coyotes in the wild only once. They were smart and shy of humans.
More recently, I have heard stories of coyotes in Ontario. They seem pretty brazen and come right into farm yards. They don’t act at all like the ones out west who give human habitation a wide berth. (They’re still plenty smart though.) I have also heard that they are inter-breeding with wolves.
Critters are smarter than we give them credit for and will adapt to a changing environment.


DeNihilist says:
February 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm
it is amazing to realize, that a 150 pound animal can take down a 1000 pound horse!
Much like CO2, in the parts per MILLION, can take down planet earth and every Living being on it. Think about that.


Ah. When I read “cougar”, I assumed you meant the Human variety.

Baa Humbug

Rather large kitty kats right? kitty kats can have large litters. It may not be unsual for cougars to have the odd large litter. Just because we’ve never observed large litters before doesn’t mean it don’t exist.
May even be a couple of generations of mamma and the kids.
Or maybe it was the X class flare frigging with the kitties minds lol


I see a lot of mountain lion tracks where I hike off trail. The damn things make me nervous.
I usually have a gun, knife, spear or whatever with me – but that won’t do much good if they ambush you.

Alan the Brit

Nik says:
February 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm
I agree with Nik. Rather like the recent “discovery” of tigers living above a particular altitude, was it in Brunei? can’t recall right now, but it was “thought/believed” impossible until actually photographed live! (As said before, no body apologised or owned up to being wrong about it). I know folk lore is a powerful thing, just like tales of wolves hunting & killing humans, as I understand it they would only ever do that when really hungry, not as a norm. Is this a scientific self-censorship type of thing where arrogance & presumption takes precedence? Anyway, the photos are stunning & magnificent, these creatures are truly beautiful. We in the PDREU/EUSR have nothing like it, but I would raise the question about conservation in general regarding our declining [sparrow] population & the protection of Sparrow-Hawks……………….”How many sparrows does it take to feed a breeding Sparrow-hawk population?” Over here the poor old farmer gets falsely accused for all those pesticides he sprays indiscriminately (allegedly). The RSPB et al can’t wait to jump on modern farming methods, you know the ones that keep us all fed, whilst the organic farmers can farm at will because it is fashionable. Note I used the word “methods” as opposed to the word “practices”, as used by the anti-moderns, why do they love to use words that can make something sound dirty &/or unsavoury?

Alan the Brit

Sorry peeps, there should have been a “sparrow” in between declining & population.

There are too many coyotes in South Colorado. They try to steal chickens from our neighbors, and they killed off a dozen or so half-wild cats that lived around our house and protected us from the field mice.
My son shot one of the coyotes but they rarely show up in the daytime. Usually they come at night, making a lot of noise far away but then sneaking silently very close, right to the front door — and you know about it only because dogs suddenly start barking and nervously running around.
There is a mountain lion nearby, too. She lives down the creek but keeps away from people and houses. Good strategy, because if it ever comes near, I am not going to apply for license before I shoot it. I am afraid of cougars and bears roaming around. They are smart and ruthless predators, and they will eat you if they can.

P.S. to commieBob:
Coyotes cannot interbreed with wolves. Coyotes and wolves have different number of chromosome pairs.
As I mentioned above, when hungry, coyotes don’t give us “a wide berth” at all. They sneak right under our veranda at night, in search for cats and anything else edible. I see them sometimes, when I work at night and come out on veranda to smoke my pipe. They can move without making any sound, and they come in pairs: one flushes the prey (for example, a kitten from under the woodpile), the other stands by and catches it.
Wolves and dogs have the same number of chromosomes. Which proves that dogs are domesticated wolves.

Dave Springer

Pamela Gray says:
February 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm
“My older sister insists that I “carry” when I go fishing. She’s probably right.”
No “probably” about it.
“But look, there is only so much a belt can carry.”
Try a shoulder holster.
“If it comes down to the worms or the .357, the worms will win.”
A .357 is a heavy weapon and unless you want to stop a charging bear it’s overkill. It’s too large for small hands too. A lightweight wheel gun I like is a 5-shot .38 Smith & Wesson “Chief’s Special”. Standard model weighs 19 ounces and the airweight model weighs 15.
It can be safely used with “+P” (high pressure) ammunition for irregular use and standard rounds for frequent use (self-defense vs. target practice). The +P rounds pack almost as much punch as a standard .357 round. The difference is .357 revolvers can handle a lot hotter load than a standard .357 and do it all day long at the practice range. The reason they can do that is they have about twice the amount of steel in their construction and feel like you’re carrying a brick after a short time.
Are cougars attracted to anise/peanutbutter/krill scent?

Dave Springer

That said (about the handgun) what I’d most recommend is a dog. Most cats will avoid tangling with a large breed dog in the first place and can’t sneak up on them like they can sneak up on you. For personal protection a livestock guard dog (LGD) is a good bet as they were bred over thousands of years for the express purpose of keeping predators and prey separated. LGDs are strong willed independent animals so get a book on training them and follow the instructions to the letter. If you do that you’ll have a loyal obedient able guardian devoted to your safety.
The Anatolian on the left in the picture with the horse is a dead ringer for one of mine. That particular breed is ancient and dates back as far as 6,000 years.
Mine’s gentle as a lamb with small non-threatening animals. One night I found him crying by his water dish outside the back door. There was a big toad soaking in it and he didn’t know what to do about it. I told him the toad was our friend who eats mosquitos for us. From that day on he would sit patiently by his water bowl guarding the toad until it was finished with his nightly soaking. The toad became pretty tame too and would lean his head into my finger to get a cheek rub. It’s amazing how, under the right circumstances, all sorts of different animals can become friends with each other.

amicus curiae

I have read of growing numbers of Elk Moose and deer in usa being found with CWD.
so, if theyre slow and feeble I would have thought cougars etc would be feeding well on them?
It will also be interesting to see the cougars eating such be tested for catching the CWD themselves as it appears to be able to cross species. Hnters eating rare meat from reporets, inc family members have caught a human variant of it.
Patricia Doyle, seems to be well informed on it. search her name she has a site

Long island

Coyotes and wolves have interbreed. It is why eastern coyotes are larger. They are a hybrid. Coyotes breed with wolves in Michigan/great lakes region and migrated east breeding with the already existing coyote populations in western new York and Pennsylvania.

Tom in Florida

It’s worse than we thought. (there, it is said, now we can move on)


Mountain biking in the Cleveland National Forest in Orange County, CA has it’s cougar risks as well. I started carrying a small, gasoline-wetted cloth tied to my hydration pack, on the basis that “reliable” sources said that cougars stayed away from the smell. I was thinking that they usually attack from downwind so they might be hesitant to go for something not exactly smelling like goodness.
Two years later in the canyon on the return potion of my ride, there were two attacks, one fatal. Gives a guy goosebumps.

L. Bowser

@ Alex Feht
You are absolutely incorrect when you state coyotes and wolves cannot interbreed. You would also be incorrect if you assumed the same thing about dogs and coyotes as well. For your reading pleasure:
Now, I’ve never seen a Coywolf, but I’ve definitely seen a Coydog. Used to have one running around in the woods behind my house in Indiana.
One interesting thing about Coyotes, and I suspect that it’s probably the same with cougars, they are naturally solitary animals until small game (rabbits, squirrels, foxes, raccoons, cats, etc…) are in short supply. Then their survival instinct takes over and they pack together. The best indication that coyotes are over-populated is when you start coming along deer kill sites where the carcass has been picked clean in a short amount of time.

Pamela Gray says:
February 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm

We’ve got cats all over the place in Wallowa County. My older sister insists that I “carry” when I go fishing. She’s probably right. … Are cougars attracted to anise/peanutbutter/krill scent?

Good idea, except that your cougar will likely bite your neck breaking it before you can pull out the gun.
The official word in New Hampshire used to be that there are no cougars in the state. Then a Fish and Game officer saw one. Now the official word is that the only cougars in NH are escaped/discarded pets! (Hey, I think they stole that line from Nova Scotia.) The general belief is that Fish & Game doesn’t have the money or interest to spend on research, hiker education, farmer compensation, etc.
At our property at Mt. Cardigan, locals say there are at least two – one tawny and one dark but most sightings are just glimpses of the cat moving away.
My wife and nephew saw the tawny cat on our property, so she insisted on a small .38 special with laser sight for Christmas. Two part encounter – first on trail looking up at a ledge, second on the ledge looking down at the cat investigating the first siting spot. Me? I generally hike the area with our smallish dog….
We have a critter cam. I didn’t have a chance last year, but this spring I’ll set it up near a rocky overlook with a canvas bag filled with catnip for bait. I’ll transport the bag in a heavy plastic pouch. Or put it on the dog.

What a sight! Been around cougars off and on since my early twenties and stilll intrigued by them. They are funny about dogs, sometimes one beagle can run them up a tree and other times they will kill and eat a big dog. Down in central california there is a guy named Jeff Davis who used to be and might still be a government cat man, he has many amazing pictures and could tell you much about cat behavior if you can get him to talk. His wife says she thinks he would eat a lion turd if it would make him a better tracker!


My dad and I came across what was probably one of the last few mountain lions in NW Louisiana back in the early ’80’s (I was about 8). We were quail hunting when dad’s pointer locked up and was quivering, which was very odd because this dog believed he was 10′ tall and bulletproof! Dad gave the order to flush, the dog flinched to follow orders, froze again, and then gave Dad a look that said all of, “heck no, what’s in there will eat ME!” Dad moved ahead of the dog to flush what he assumed would be a covey and out of the brush went the lion, thankfully the other way!
He didn’t shoot, but I still want to believe that had it attacked, that nearly an ounce of lead at 3′ would have had a chance at stopping the cat.
I still look for big cat tracks in all my time in the woods of NW La. but still haven’t come across anything but ‘yote and bob’ tracks. They did kill one inside Bossier City, and it proved out to be wild and not an escaped pet. Yet, as the prior comment lamented, if they show back up and start threatening…. the cat will suffer the consequences.


That handgun will do you a lot of good when it leaps from a tree and rips your neck out.
I’m glad however, that we live in a world where wild creatures still exist. Wilderness is much more real when the presence of cougars reminds you that humans aren’t always in control. Hmmm sort of like climate……