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  • Last modified 79 days ago (May 31, 2018)

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Couple spots mountain lion in garden

News editor

Joel Hayes of Florence may have to settle for store-bought vegetables from now on. His wife, Alice, has sworn off gardening after the couple spotted a cougar strolling through their back yard.

The Hayeses live just east of Florence on US-50, and about three weeks ago they were enjoying their typical morning routine.

“We always watch the news in the morning,” Alice said, “and we have a big picture window.”

The view looking out the window typically reveals an area next to the house for their dogs, then a grassy area, and then Alice’s garden.

“We see a lot of deer in our backyard once in a while; they’ve even come up to look in our window, about five feet away,” Alice said. “We see a lot of wildlife.”

A raccoon, skunk, or opossum wouldn’t have caused Alice and Joel to look away from the news, but one much bigger did: a cougar, commonly known as a mountain lion.

“He noticed it first,” Alice said. “He’s got really good eyesight. It was between the house and the garden, in the grassy area between the house and fence.”

Such sightings are frequently met with skepticism, even though Kansas has had confirmed sightings of mountain lions in recent years. Alice and Joel were certain of what they saw.

“This was a big one,” Alice said. “It was tawny colored, and you could see the long tail they have. It was slowly walking from the east to the west across the grassy area, with its long, long tail trailing behind it.”

The Hayeses watched until the big cat disappeared in some trees. Alice said they didn’t have anything like chickens that might have attracted the cougar to their yard.

“We have a lot of woods around us, so it’s a good habitat for them, I suppose,” she said. “It takes your breath away to think how many hours it’s been out in that garden.”

They didn’t report the sighting to the Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, but they did tell a few friends who had some advice.

“‘Stay away from that garden; carry a gun,’” Alice said. “Well, I don’t have a gun. I think I just won’t go out there anymore.”

With unseasonably cool temperatures in the spring, Alice didn’t plant much this year, but what there is will be Joel’s to harvest.

“We have a big asparagus patch out there, but I’ll let Joel cut that,” she said.

It doesn’t matter to Alice that the cat hasn’t reappeared and likely wasn’t in the area to stay.

“It was kind of interesting and fun, something to tell your family and friends about, but it sure destroyed my desire to garden,” she said. “I’m not going to garden anymore out there.”

Last modified May 31, 2018

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