Across The Universe: We can’t learn enough about this place we call home, Tahoe-Truckee
March 3, 2015
It's my hope you all read the story, or at least marveled at the photo, of a mountain lion sighting last week in the Martis Peak area of Truckee.
When Sharon Wilson submitted the photo, I was pretty excited. I'm a huge fan of wildlife (I've written about my bear encounters before), and I always feel privileged that so many species live in our backyard — and, that I feel I have a good grasp on the appropriate ways to live peacefully among them.
So I traded emails with Sharon and spoke to wildlife officials from both states to learn more about the cougar in an effort to share the information with readers, and we did so Monday by way of a photo and caption on our Facebook page, before posting a slightly longer version of the story that you see on Page 3 today.
As we've put a larger focus this year on reaching readers beyond our print edition, we've seen growth in followers on our Facebook page — and with that, thankfully, more comments.
Now, regarding the mountain lion, a good 90-95 percent of the Facebook feedback was of a "Whoa, I live near there," or "Wish I could see one," or "Cool!" nature; still others appreciated the image, but made a point to hope nothing bad happened to the animal, to which I agree — no need for it to be captured if it's not harming anyone, right?
But a few people took a different tactic, and one comment in particular stood out to me: "Not sure why this is a big deal?? We live in the mountains and it's a 'mountain' lion … Not like they're that rare to see."
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I found this as a perfect opportunity to respond and explain my reasoning, which I want to share with all readers, in the event some also are scratching your heads:
I chose to write the story for these reasons: A. Because a reader submitted the photo which deserves to be published, and to run it without any sort of context could have wrongly instilled fear and/or false information among readers. And B. As we do with bear stories or coyote stories, I feel it doesn't hurt to remind readers (particularly those who aren't familiar with our wilderness) from time to time the wildlife that do live in our backyard — while also sharing from the experts the suggested ways to live with them, and what not to do."
It can be easy for us to take things for granted at Tahoe and Truckee. And there's no doubt we all share different opinions on all our issues.
But, for most of us, the one thing we have in common here is that stunning alpine lake and the surrounding majestic Sierra. So why not seize every opportunity to educate the public more about our shared treasure, and those that call it home?
Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun. He may be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.