>"Hugh P. Hermann" <[log in to unmask]>
 Subject:      Assault Kills Skier.

 Any of us who hit the back country in Yoho, Banff, and Assinibone should
 note of this new threat.  Marilyn and I have skied these parks for 18
years and
 have always considered avalanches and weather as the major hazards.  Any
 suggestions as to avoiding cougars?<

No ideas other than the obvious one of don't ski alone.  I'm not going to
worry about it.  Probably any of us has a thousands to millions of times
greater chance of being run over by a truck.

The story that Marc linked from First Tracks "What's New" is very
informative and has some ominous elements.  Apparently there have been 3
or 4 aggressive cougar encounters recently in the close vicinity of the
town of Banff.  Also a wolf pack is now active in the area and is
presenting tough competition to the cougars.  The town of Banff tends to
attract wildlife, in this case perhaps because of the wolves being shy of
humans and therefore the wildlife may be safer from wolves when they
congregate near town.  I did observer last spring that elk come inside the
fence around town via the highway and are a nuisance.  The town has a full
time employee whose job is to chase elk out of town.  The cougars appear
to have learned that dinner is easier to find near town and in the process
are getting habituated to humans.  When this happens with any formidable
predator it is very bad news.

The trail where the attack occurred is right outside town and not in the
wilderness.  It was, and probably in the future will be, used by dozens of
people a day many of whom go out for an hour or two alone.  If I lived
there I would have thought nothing of doing this; I'd probably delight in
doing it half the days of the winter.  I also did not worry about skiing
alone in Yosemite last winter;
I'd probably do it again.  I suspect that the liklihood of such an attack
in the true wilderness is much less than near town, given the special
circumstances that exist around Banff.  That cat had learned to prey on
humans in a school that the humans had set up.  I am sorry for the victims
friends and family.  My guide of last spring lives in Canmore and probably
knew her.

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