Monday, January 29, 2007

Mountain Lions

Advice for the next time you run into a lion on the Parkway.

Editorial: Take that!
The lady bests the lion
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, January 29, 2007

Animal guidebooks clinically describe how mountain lions attack. The cats prefer to ambush their prey, typically approaching unseen, often from behind. They usually kill with a powerful bite to the back of the neck that severs the spinal cord.

And we've all seen the park signs telling us what to do if we see a mountain lion -- try to appear larger, wave your arms, make noise, throw branches or rocks. If attacked, fight back. Do not play dead.

That sounds so simple and easy.

But 65-year-old Nell Hamm has shown us all that it takes some serious resourcefulness, persistence and courage to face down a mountain lion.

Hiking with her husband at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County, 50 miles north of Eureka, Hamm turned around to see her 70-year-old husband pinned, face down, with his head in the jaws of a mountain lion. Hamm grabbed a 4-inch-wide branch and beat the cat, but it wouldn't let go. She grabbed a pen from her husband's pocket and jabbed the cat in the eye. That didn't work, either. Finally, she slammed the branch into the cat's snout, which caused the cat to retreat.

Hamm didn't want to leave her injured husband alone, so she helped him walk a quarter-mile down the trail to the road. They came upon an inmate work crew with the California Department of Forestry, and the four men went for help. An ambulance arrived, and Jim Hamm was saved.