Ever been chased by a mountain lion? How about a cougar, panther, or puma? Me neither, but I’ve probably passed within metres of all four. (I’m told that they’re all the same species – Puma concolor.) A new study from U of C Santa Cruz looked at the timidity of these big cats. Investigators found that cougars are particularly flighty at the sound of human voices. According to the research scientists, the cats run most quickly when they hear the recorded banter of political pundits. They are especially nervous when exposed to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or Rachel Maddow.
The experiment went something like what you see in the video below. Mountain lions were lured to a fresh carcass, then treated to the unexpected sound of frogs. The pumas kept eating. But when the soundtrack switched to noisy political know-it-alls, the cats fled – as should we all. The experiment was repeated again and again with the same results. This made me think of bears and bee yards.
It can be really, really hard to keep grizzlies and black bears out of bee yards. We once had a grizzly dig under a chain link fence to get into one of our apiaries. With the cheap cost and high reliability of electronics these days, I wonder if bears can be sent scrambling the same way that pumas retreat. Probably not. My brother chased a 7-foot-tall bear out of a bee yard by yelling at it, but the bear ambled slowly, then turned and stood, seeming to laugh at my brother as Don stood there, thinking that the hivetool in his hand wouldn’t be much of a defense if the bear suddenly charged.
I suspect that some non-fence systems might be as good as a string of electrified wires because bears sometimes make a hair-raising charge through the voltage. A north-Saskatchewan beekeeper told me that he regularly filled bottles with beer which he had cycled through his own body, placing urine-imbibed canisters around his bee yards. He claimed that after ‘marking his territory’, bears kept out. (That’s your beekeeping tip of the day.) Compared to the sound of Rush Limbaugh, it’s likely a less effective anti-bear ‘solution’. I have no reason to doubt the beekeeper, though I never tried it. Maybe someone can test this and let us all know if it works.
My friend Liz Goldie set up a Primos Truth Cam 46 at her farm south of Calgary and caught animals in these pictures. (By the way, the bear (above) eventually entered her apiary, ripping apart the electrified fence and some hives.) Perhaps the trigger mechanism from the motion-sensitive camera which took the cougar and grizzly photos on today’s blog could be adapted to photograph the critters, then scare them away with a blast of pundit. Works for me.