Mountain Lions in Frontier Adams County

By Travis on April 18, 2009

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Mountain Lions in Frontier Adams County

by Heather Bangert

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The following Adams County tale is narrated by former local man Orestes Ames:

” Samuel Ferguson lived near Columbus, and had two sons, who, in 1830, went into the woods to hunt for the cows. During their rambles they came to the trunk of a fallen tree, which lay a little up from the ground. They climbed on to the log, when a sight met their gaze which would have curdled the blood of less courageous boys. By the side of the log at their feet lay a mother panther with two cubs. They espied each other simultaneously. A little dog accompanying the boys began to bay at the panther, which at once put herself in an attitude for defense. One of the boys started for a cudgel to give battle. The panther made no effort to escape, but stood her ground to protect her family. While warding off the attacks of the dog, her tail slipped through the firm grasp, and bracing himself against the log held on till his brother beat her to death with his club. They carried the young ones home, and months after sold one of them to a menagerie, the other escaped while on the way to Quincy, and was afterward killed.”

– The mountain lion, nature’s graceful killer, once hunted across the western hemisphere. Also known as a panther, puma, cougar, and catamount, these agile carnivores can survive in freezing northern woods and high elevations, tropical rainforests, swamps, deserts, and the unpredictable Midwestern climate. As noted in this violent account, they were once a top predator in Adams County, finding shelter in caves, rocky outcrops, and among dense vegetation.

This solitary cat has since been eradicated from this area and many other U.S. habitats. Early settlers were attempting to protect deer populations, as well as their own livestock and homesteads; but eliminating  natural predators like panthers and wolves has disrupted the balance of  the food chain and elevated deer populations.

Mountain lions still roam the western U.S., and populations there have risen dramatically the past ten years. The shy feline has gained courage and entered suburban neighborhoods in search of food. They have reportedly been spotted in Illinois and Missouri and our Tri-State region.

Mountain Lions possess impressive athletic skills: See in the dark; Swim and climb trees; Can fall 50 feet and land on its feet unharmed; Can Leap 25 feet from a dead stop. Click Here for additional images and information.

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3 Responses to “Mountain Lions in Frontier Adams County”

  1. Whoops, there’s an error in the beginning frontier tale:
    “”While warding off the attacks of the dog, her tail slipped through the crevice under the log; and quick as thought one of the boys seized it witha a firm grasp, and bracing himself against the log held on till his brother beat her to death with his club.”
    Reads much better with the extra words, sorry

  2. paul w says:

    The next time I stumble on a panther the first thing I’ll do is start for a cudgel to give battle.

  3. Marc H says:

    I wonder if they eat mushroom hunters………

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