Big Creek Memories

Submitted by Bill Miller (Idaho):

Several of us owners met at the Lodge in early June 2001 to ready the place for its upcoming opening day, and to just relax and soak up the beauty of the Big Creek area. We arrived Friday, enjoyed a nice meal, and visited until dark. Next morning after breakfast we lounged on the porch, enjoying the warm sun as it overcame the morning chill. Just then the Allens arrived, both eager to enjoy the splendor of Big Creek, to socialize, and just maybe help us with a few chores.511db09c2d4aa-kittybytoolshed

As they parked, their large, gorgeous white poodle, Lilly, bailed out and came playfully racing across the lawn toward us, happy to stretch her long legs and to greet her old friends. Phil and Laurie strolled up to our sun party, and just we were greeting them, everyone’s attention was suddenly diverted to a most bizarre sight unfolding before us: Lilly playfully bounding up to a large brown animal. This animal, approaching Lilly in a low slink, was a cougar! Just 10 yards away! Lilly, sensing this was a new playmate, frisked forward, but both animals abruptly halted at two yards distance, both distracted by the Allens, who were now shrieking, yelling, and screaming,“Lilly, Lilly!” Lilly’s feline playmate had never had this kind of excitement before, and quickly and gracefully glided to the far end of the lawn, and disappeared--we thought. Lilly decided not to give chase, but came to greet all of us, not a bit concerned about her near disaster. Phil and Laurie soon recovered from their panic, and we all stood around, replaying our different versions of this wildlife adventure.

But soon, somebody’s sharp eyes discovered the cat hadn’t truly ‘scatted’, but was crouching under a backhoe at the lawn’s edge, just 100 yards away.Our cat, we later learned, was one of a pair raised in captivity, and surrendered to the Department of Fish and Game. Fish and Game released the pair near Cold Meadows—20 air miles and several canyons distant. So, their cat was now our cat, sporting a bright yellow radio-tracking collar. And as with wild creatures raised in captivity, this kitty showed no fear of us.

For the remainder of the day we continued to see the cat hanging out around the Lodge grounds. A great situation for our wildlife watching, but bad for a public lodge which would soon host customers--along with tasty youngsters and pets.
This cat tale ended a couple days later, but you’ll have to ask Bruce Parker or me about how our cougar became a killer, and how we brought justice to Big Creek!