Rodney Lounsbury has seen and heard plenty of coyotes near his Nile Valley home, and has heard his dog scramble off the porch in pursuit of a critter here and there.
But it wasn’t until about 4 a.m. Tuesday that he saw his first cougar in the area — and it was on his porch, on top of his dog, a 14-year-old blue heeler whose screeches had awakened Lounsbury and brought him running with a 9 mm handgun.
“I turned on the lights and there’s a cougar on top of (the dog),” recalled Lounsbury. “I swung the door open, stepped out and took a shot at it, hoping I don’t hit my own dog.”
At the gunshot, the cat released the dog, which ran in to the house, bleeding from various wounds. The cougar — which Lounsbury described as looking “pretty adult to me” — didn’t immediately retreat.
“I’m still standing there in the doorway and it’s looking toward me and into the house toward the dog,” Lounsbury said. “I drew down on him and took another shot. That’s when it turned.”
Lounsbury shot at the cougar twice more as it ran across the lawn, but isn’t sure if he hit it.
“But I possibly did. That’s kind of what we’re worried about,” he said. “The idea of there being a wounded cougar out there in the neighborhood.”
The Lounsburys live on the northeast side of State Route 410 between mileposts 109 and 110, roughly a mile east of the Woodshed Restaurant, with several other homes nearby.
Lounsbury called 911 to report the incident and a while later two enforcement officers from the state Department Fish and Wildlife came, along with a tracker and a team of hounds, but they were unable to locate the cougar.
According to the wildlife department’s “Living With Wildlife” online feature, in areas where cougars are believed to be, homeowners should keep pets indoors, and bring inside any food and water bowls well before dark. Small children should not be left unattended outdoors.