Hunting Hunting Dogs

SD Lion Kills Labrador

Brian Lynn Avatar

First it’s nasty, bacteria-infested iguanas in Florida posing a potentially dangerous threat to dogs, and now mountain lions in South Dakota are entering people’s yards and killing their pups. A conclusion some have drawn from the attacks, however, reveals an interesting prey-selection process for the big cats.

In this article from the Rapid City Journal, the demise of a 60-pound Labrador retriever is documented. The lion was a 60-pound female estimated to be about 1-year old. Because the cat killed the dog in a residential yard, it was tracked and killed itself. If the dog had been out running through the forest when the attack took place, it probably wouldn’t have been killed.

Big dogs and those gated in a kennel aren’t safe either. A cougar jumped into a 100-pound Rottweiler’s fenced enclosure and tried to kill the dog. The owners arrived in time to chase the cat off.

What is interesting about the attacks, is that many are drawing the conclusion that cougar prey selection has little to with the size of the dog but rather how vocal they are when stalked/approached.

“It’s not so much the size of the dog. It seems to center on whether the dog is a barker,” said GF&P regional game manager John Kanta. “If you have a dog that barks quite a bit, lions don’t seem to mess with those. They just tend to avoid the real vocal dogs.”

As evidence, he cited two cases that illustrate the theory. In one, a pair of poodles treed a cat and in another a single basset hound put one up. “And that basset hound was so fat its belly drug on the ground,” he said. “It bayed and howled and put that lion right up a tree.”

It’s an interesting theory that makes sense. After all, hounds are revered for their voices for numerous reasons. I wonder if it’s a learned behavior the cats are exhibiting (e.g., contact with hound hunters in the past or taught from momma), or if it’s an survival instinct or has something else to do with feline psychology and the fact that they’re reclusive animals by nature? What do you think?

And just as an FYI, check out the cool pics of a cougar taking down a bighorn ram and of a cat that chased a guy into his house before dying on the front porch!