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Green yards lure deer, mountain lions into towns

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Cougar in the woods

Watering the grass in your yard during the summer does more than make it green, it can also attract wildlife like deer.

As summer drags on and land outside of towns dries up, a green lawn, flowers and bushes can be pretty inviting to deer.

Where deer travel, mountain lions often follow. Mountain lions are also called pumas and cougars. A big male cougar may weigh 145 to 175 pounds. Females weigh about 85 to 120 pounds.

Mule deer are slightly larger than white-tailed deer. Also called muleys, they can weigh 100 to 175 pounds. Whitetails are 100 to 150 pounds.

Deer are one of the large cat’s favorite meals. In the wild, cougars hunt at night in places that are a bit brighter instead of using the darkest places, like thick woods.

So naturally, if there are more deer in town, chances are some mountain lions will follow them.

In the wild, deer are more active in the morning and evening. In towns, because of all the artificial light, they will feed at night, especially during the summer.

Researchers from the University of Michigan recently studied this unusual situation. They wanted to know if the bright street and yard lights in towns would make mountain lions shy away. Another possibility they considered is that drawing a bunch of deer into one place could make it easier for the mountain lions to make a kill. What’s more, the deer may be less cautious if there are a lot of lights on.

What the scientists found was that lions would stay away from brightly lit areas, but that they were also very good at using shadows to hide so they could pounce on a deer in some lighted areas.

All of this may be a good excuse to not water your lawn and turn off your outdoor lights.

— Brett French,


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