Big Cat Wrangler on the Connecticut’s Movin’ Mountain Lion

Big cat wrangler Boone Smith, a fourth-generation tracker and houndsman who has spent 20 years capturing hundreds of cougars and other big cats to aid conservation efforts was at the TV Critics Press Tour last week to help promote a couple of specials he’ll be featured in later this year during the second annual Big Cats Week on Nat Geo Wild.

It was a good opportunity to ask about that mountain lion who was killed in Connecticut after traveling more than 1,500 miles from Black Hills of South Dakota.

It was unusual but not entirely unknown, Smith said.

“One thing that’s common with cougars, especially in young males, is they are dispersers,” he said. “It’s hardwired into them to disperse, and so that’s one of the things we see with mountain lions out of their core territories: we see the young guys usually pushing out into the fringes and traveling.

“There are a couple of really unique cases where they’ve traveled big long distances,” he said. And the Connecticut case, which ended after a young male mountain lion was hit by a Hyundai Tucson SUV on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford June 11, after traveling from South Dakota and wisconsin,  “is definitely on the far end,” he added.

“That’s a long, long ways, but it’s not uncommon to see big movements like that. We move more and more into the habitats of wild animals, and it’s bound to happen that we’re going to have more human animal interactions and encounters.”

Smith hosts two films, “American Cougar” and “Hunt for the Shadow Cat” during the second annual Big Cats Week on Nat Geo Wild in December.

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