80-Year-Old Woman Shoots Mountain Lion To Save Pet Dog

SmithYou definitely don’t want to get in this grandmother’s way.

Martha Smith, an 80-year-old woman, heard Bo, her Border collie, barking loudly outside. She looked outside and saw Bo facing off with a mountain lion.

Smith grabbed her .22-caliber rifle, ran outside and fired a shot at the lion. She missed the lion, and then she went inside to call 911 while Bo was keeping the lion away from himself and the house. The dispatcher said they were having a difficult time trying to find someone from Game, Fish and Parks to take care of the lion.

Smith decided she had to take matters into her own hands. She grabbed her rifle again and walked to within about 20 to 25 feet of the lion and fired. She shot him right in the chest.

The mountain lion jumped up, ran for a short distance, and then dropped to the ground.

When an official from Game, Fish and Parks came, it was confirmed that the mountain lion was dead. Authorities said the six-month-old mountain lion was about 30 to 40 pounds.

Smith said she was nervous during the whole ordeal because she couldn’t see well enough to figure out if the mountain lion was big or small.

She added, “Thank God he was little, because I don’t think my .22 would have killed a big one.”

Smith said that she isn’t a hunter and hasn’t done a lot of shooting, but she said that she was taught how to shoot when she was young and that a person never forgets how to shoot.

A Game, Fish, and Parks spokesperson said that Smith was justified in shooting the mountain lion because she was protecting her dog and her property.

Source: Rapid City Journal

36 Responses to “80-Year-Old Woman Shoots Mountain Lion To Save Pet Dog”

  1. G in INdiana says:

    I have very mixed feelings on this one. I am glad she “saved” her pet, but wouldn’t it have been better for all species involved for her to have put the dog IN the house and locked up. Once every domestic species (including the human) has been secured, then you call animal control to tranquilize the lion and move it away.
    Too bad a lovely wild creature had to be killed when making sure the dog was inside would have been a way smarter plan.

  2. Bane says:

    I agree, G. in Indiana.

  3. Sharon says:

    I thought this was going to be a good story but a 30 lb baby? That “mountain lion” was the size of my cat Shelby, RIP sweetie. She killed a cat that was trying to play with her dog.

  4. Nancy G. says:

    Yeah, I have mixed feelings too. The cat was young, inexperienced, out looking for its own territory, possibly hungry, and probably did not know to avoid humans, and that a dog would not necessarily make an easy meal. But you can’t keep a dog confined all the time like you could a house cat, esp, not an active Border Collie. She probably could have gone out there banging pots and scared it away, had she had better eyesight. The only “winner” in this is the Border Collie, but if she had called it in and it turned its back on the cougar, the cat would have pounced. The dog was pretty much trapped.

  5. kathy says:

    Yes you are absolutely right Nancy G. You don’t ever turn your back on a mountain lion, unless you want pounced on.
    The baby lion was inexperienced no doubt, but even a baby can kill a dog.
    Humans just keep expanding farther and farther into the wildlife’s territory, which incidentally is the territory we drove them into by settling the West, soon the wildlife will have no where to go, and the human population jsut keeps expanding. Loss of habitat is the number one killer of most wildlife. No easy answers

  6. Animal Lover says:

    She’s an IDIOT! And a shameless one at that.

  7. janet says:

    she says she’s not a hunter but it looks like there’s an animal head mounted on the wall in the upper right portion of the picture. I know if it were my dog, I would have done the same thing and I would have felt terrible about killing the mountain lion but my dog comes first. When I got a dog I took on the responsibility of protecting him and taking good care of him as well as loving him.

  8. nancy says:

    Poor baby! I’d put my dog IN THE HOUSE where it belongs if it is not supervised and probably feed the cat! People are the cause of most of their problems! This is a fine example! Sorry, don’t have much sympathy for humans…….

  9. florzoi says:

    i dont think we have to worry about running out of room for wildlife. the federal government owns about 98% of the land in alaska and about 86% in nevada.
    out west, the feds own 65% of all the land west of denver.
    this young mountain lion would have grown up into an adult mountain lion within a year. maybe she saved not only her dog, but herself as well.

  10. Taylor says:

    You don’t mess around with a mountain lion being the aggressor and coming up upon your property. Especially in the day time and not running from a barking dog and human. The first missed shot should have made it turn tail and run too, but it didn’t.. That granny probably put down a rabid cat.

  11. Gindy says:

    florzoi, the cat could have been tranqued and relocated.
    As for running out of land for wild life, can you please tell me how wild life that needs wetlands is going to fair in the desert or tundra. Most of the federal lands in NV and CO are also leased for grazing, and they kill wild life out there kiddo. Also a lot Alaskan land is leased for drilling and mining, and that ruins it for anyone including human beings.
    You need to get an education about environmental economics (my degree) before you go popping off.

  12. Gindy says:

    Oh and Taylor, you a vet? Or are you like that dopey doctor who tried to diagnose a brain dead woman from a video (and you don’t even have that for evidence).

  13. Pasada says:

    I grew up in Idaho. If you fire a warning shot at a cougar and it doesn’t bolt, it’s either sick, starving or aggressive. That’s not a diagnosis. That’s common horse sense. You do not call the dog in, the cat will see that as a retreat and pounce. You thank the dog for it’s bravery and then do all you can to save it.
    Yes, we’re encroaching on territory. Yes, it’s horrible. But would you honestly want all of us country folk moving into your cities, taking your jobs, eating your food and making you nuts? There’s no good solution, and I’ll stick to my open skies, thanks. I don’t need a DVM to know that.

  14. Grumpy says:

    I agree. The woman’s an IDIOT and, yes, that’s definitely a decapitated head hanging on her wll. She has no respect for wildlife, and her dog should not have been allowed out unsupervised, period.

  15. florzoi says:

    gindy, my brother has worked out here for fish and wildlife over 20 years so he has actual life experience-related facts, not a politically correct dogma degree from a university.
    in an ideal world with a warden a mile away, yes the cat could have been tranquilized and relocated. but how long would it have taken to get a warden out her house? to keep the cat from running away and costing the county a lot of money to find it, maybe she should have invited the cat in for tea while waiting for him to arrive?
    as for wetlands, they are federally protected. this isnt brazil. of course some animals are killed, but fewer die by our hands than by killing each other.
    lastly, alaska west of the pipeline has about 350 million acres of wetlands. only 30,000 acres have been used for industry. did your degree in enviro-economics teach you how to calculate what percentage that is? hint: 1/100 of 1%.

  16. BTaylor322 says:

    I’m a different “Taylor”. The thing that strikes me, and this point has already been made. Fact is: Cat didn’t run off when faced w/ a barking dog, and it didn’t run off when she fired the 1st shot. I’d worry about that. To call this lady and idiot is totally unfair, because WE weren’t there; she was.

    I do have friends who have a cabin in the Cascades. They do take their dogs up w/ them. They ARE supervised. However, on 2 occasions - at night - they were holed up by a Mountain Lion - for almost an entire night while they listened to it prowling around and attacking their - fortunately - pretty sturdy door. The husband is one of the most peaceful people I’ve ever met. He did buy a rifle after those experiences.

    Another point: many species of wild cats run about that size, and they are still VERY dangerous. There’s no comparison between a 30 pound house cat and a 30 pound Cougar. I sure wouldn’t want to stick around to prove the point, either.

    In the end, it’s real unfortunate that Fish and Game couldn’t make it. I don’t know if the outcome would have been any different, but under the circumstances it was unfortunate, but unavoidable. It’s just a guess, but it does sound like the “baby” Cougar was probably starving, and that accounted for its behavior. Just a guess, mind you.

    As a closing note: there have been several hickers attacked and killed just minding their own business. It’d sure give me pause.

  17. Nancy G. says:

    Maybe the women’s late husband [or even father] was the hunter, and killed the animal whose head is seen in the picture? The cat was probably young, inexperienced and hungry. Are they having a drought out there, making food scarce? A sad situation, but no need to call anyone an “idiot.”

  18. Anonymous says:

    The old bat is an idiot because she feels no remorse about killing that lion CUB (30 lbs is a cub) and she is an idiot because if she was responsible and kept her dog inside or under close supervision, that beautiful animal would not have to have been killed. She’s an idiot because she thinks killing a beautiful creature is something to be proud of.

  19. shibadiva says:

    The media isn’t exactly clear on the woman’s motives, fears, backup plans or how she felt afterwards. Although they allude to her call to the wildlife department, and indicate that she could not see whether the cat was big or small, the spin seems to be sensationalist: “Don’t mess with this granny”. I wonder if she regrets being talked into posing with a rifle in front of the mounted head.

  20. BTaylor322 says:

    Perceived self-defense and defense of her dog, I’d say. It isn’t rocket science. As for the animal head on the wall, it’s a deer of some sort. For all we know it’s 80 years old, and we don’t even know IF anyone in her family shot it. Back then, they actually shot deer for meat. Who knew?

    If ANYONE had bothered to check the original story, the incident took place in mountains in Arizona. Paper is out of Phoenix. Cougar WAS a very young animal, and Fish & Game reported that it’s mother had been killed by a hunter. (She wasn’t a hunter, remember?) They knew because the “kitty” had a radio collar on it. But it was getting dark - remember? Why didn’t Fish & Game rescue the litter THEN? So starvation seems a likely explanation.

    If I felt my RANCH DOG (she’s lived her whole life on a ranch - some people still do that), I sure regret that I had to do it, but I wouldn’t feel like I had to apologize to it. That’s up to Fish & Game - if anyone.

    Fact is: NO animals in the wild die of “natural causes” under nice, polite circumstances. They all die violently - one way or another. It’s just too bad that too often these days, we are that cause - for its MOTHER.

    We don’t all live w/ cell phones (or blue teeth) wedged in our ears while we speed down the road in our SUVs, or brag about our 63″ HD TVs or live playing video games. SOME of us live real lives, and face REAL danger. If (God forbid) I had to take a life to save my own, I’d sure feel rotten, but I wouldn’t feel obligated to apologize. Neither should the “old coot” to those under 25! (I’d probably be a lousy shot, anyway.)

    BTW, radio collars are used to track their movements - period. It wasn’t someone’s pet.

  21. Don Earl says:

    Like the majority, I have mixed feelings on this one.

    Not mentioned by anyone is the lack of wisdom in using a .22 on a cougar, especially by someone who claims to be unable to see well enough to tell the difference between a 180 pound adult cat and a 30 pound cub. Of course, considering grandma was able to put one in the heart at 40 feet with open sights, maybe grandma’s eyesight wasn’t that bad after all. It’s not a difficult shot for anyone that spends some time practicing - at that range a decent marksman should be able to hit a dime sized target all day - but it isn’t what you’d expect from someone with bad eyesight that hasn’t touched a firearm since she was a kid.

    My guess is grandma spends quite a bit of time shooting up the local fauna, her dog three times the size of the cub was in no danger, and grandma just wanted any old excuse to shoot something. Quite possibly, the cub was attracted to other critters grandma had been plinking at whenever she saw something to shoot. Cougars are fantastically shy around humans unless there’s a regular supply of food to overcome that shyness.

    Old doesn’t necessarily mean honest. Me thinks grandma is lying about at least part of the story.

  22. cat lady says:

    how sad, we don’t have enough tolerance to live with wildlife. Her dog was no longer in danger, they should have just gone back in the house and not deliberately killed the mountain lion.
    I find it hard to believe that the cat posed much danger, particularly such a young/small one.

  23. shibadiva says:

    BTaylor, well thanks for pointing out that we should read the complete article.

    Granny ain’t ambivalent. Just stuff the critter for the museum, and git the bigger gun out next time.

  24. AnneLouise says:

    Go Granny Go! I would have done the same thing! Mountain lions can kill a dog in a few seconds. Yea, Ok, he was there to play! Ha what a joke and what an ignorant statement that was!!

  25. Nancy G. says:

    The dog was “three times the size of the cub”? And the cub was 30 pounds. A 90 pound Border Collie, that’s some big Border Collie.

  26. BTaylor322 says:

    Three times the size? Just checked on general size of “border collies”, that would make it a 90 pound dog. AKC standard gives size as: The height at the withers varies from 19″ to 22″ for males, 18″ to 21″ for females. Kind of a chunky dog, I’d say.

    As for the assumption that she merrily plunks away at wildlife, that’s lucidrous! She HAD a .22 to hand and even she didn’t know if that was big enough. I think she sounded kind of desperate, and felt she had to do something. BTW, WHERE does it say that the dog was out of danger at any point. Another fact: Border collies are typically kept for herding, etc., when their owners need help w/ moving stock. NOPE: They WORK on a ranch. Ranchers I’ve known are some of the most respectful of the environment and it’s wildlife of any group I know, but when their stock is threatened or their very valuable working animals, it’s a different matter.

    I rather doubt that anyone who cries “poor kitty” would feel the same when suddenly faced w/ the same situation. It’s real scary, and IF you and your CAN get out of the way YOU DO! (In my case it was a bear, and I was on horseback. Horse wasn’t too thrilled either.)

    I’d think she had a lot more to do than wang away at anything that moved. It takes a lot of work to run a ranch, and too much money to waste on spare ammo. It’s so nice that so many here can sit in their ivory towers and judge a woman about whom they know nothing and merely pick and choose as they wish on what was reported.

    BTW, IF I sound like an “animal hater”, rest assured, I FAR prefer them to humans. I just hate the sentimental, PC stuff I’ve read here (except for some realistic souls), by people who don’t even know enough to know what they don’t know.

    I don’t like her wanting to stuff the animal. That’s silly, to say the least, and we don’t even know IF she was quoted correctly. If anyone did go to the original article, you’d find your comments hammered. Even I was startled. I’d still like to know when that radio collar was put on (batteries typically last about a year) and HOW Fish and Wild Live (and Parks?) knew it’s mother was killed “sometime last Fall”.

    YUP, I like animals better. Too bad there was a screw up all around and BOTH that lady (you’re still human IF you’re over 30), and the cat lost.

  27. Holly says:

    I think my mixed feelings stem from the fact that this was a”baby”, however, we don’t know the whole story and never will. Name calling is just not necessary. I don’t know how I would react in this situation. If I had a gun handy, I may have done the same thing. An animal does not always have rabies when they are aggressive. I would bank on this animal just being plain hungry and was faced in a life or death situation itself. Unless the media follows up on this story with the condition of the cat, we can only speculate. I find it always sad when wildlife dies like this. However, there is no way this cat was trying to play with her dog.

  28. Cathy says:

    Boy, there sure are a lot of people that are perfect posting here.

  29. Jodie says:

    Wow…for those of you calling Granny an idiot: a 30 to 40 lb cougar is not a domesticated cat looking for a buddy to play with. And how do you know the dog wasn’t in danger?? The dog’s constant barking and gunfire didn’t scare the cougar off. Unless any of you were there to witness what was going on, you have no right criticizing this 80 yr old woman’s actions.

  30. Don Earl says:

    RE: “And how do you know the dog wasn’t in danger?? The dog’s constant barking and gunfire didn’t scare the cougar off.”

    In hunting cougars, dogs are used to corner the cat in order to make it as easy to shoot as walking up to a cow. On the other hand, members of the cat family are natures best hunters, with a kill rate of close to 40% once they begin their run at prey. If the cat had been making a run at the dog, the dog would have been dead before the first shot was fired. Dogs are not food animals for cougars. That young a cat would have been interested in something along the lines of rabbit sized prey. Cougars are naturally fantastically shy about all things human. It would take a very strong motive in the way of an easy food supply to attract it to close proximity to human dwellings.

    So, a border collie is only twice the size of a 30 pound cub at 55 pounds, rather than nearly three times the size of a regular collie. Whatever. It’s still a distant cousin of the wolf family that cougars DO NOT consider prey.

    Having read a rather disgusting 6 page pro cougar hunting article in a shooting magazine recently, my view about cornering them with dogs and shooting them just for grins is a bit colored at the moment.

    When I see someone doing a photo op in front of their trophy wall, with their gun, after shooting a baby mountain lion, that was cornered in the yard by their dog, after making a one shot kill typical of an experienced hunter, well… it raises questions in my mind about what needed saving.

    Do you know the meaning of “rationalization”. The dictionary calls it a socially acceptable excuse for socially unacceptable behavior. Too many aspects of this story indicate the shooting was rationalized rather than a legitimate response to a clear and present danger.

    There are some gray areas to be sure, but when special interests start demonizing a critter in support of recreational hunting of the beastie, a grain of salt is in order. I’m not against hunting, I’m not against guns and I’m not against self defense. There’s a time and a place for all of them. I do have a bit of trouble with shooting baby animals just for grins, especially those that are members of endangered species.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well, the old bat is an idiot for being so irresponsible as to leave her dog out. I hope she rots in hell for killing that beautiful little baby cougar. She looks inbred, too.

  32. mittens says:

    people plunking away at their internet sipping a latte in the suburbs calling a dangerous animal a ‘ kitty’ looking for a ‘ buddy’ and calling people who actually live in closer proximity to wild life, basically, stupid hillbillies? do you know how ignorant you sound? you’d last a second without your ipods and your cell phones and your ability to dial up 911 and scream for help when your wallet gets swiped or your guidance system is ripped from your car. in survival of the fittest- the world to which this ‘ kitty cat’; belongs- you’d be dead in a second. wild life are not house pets and cuddly stuffed teddies. if a mad dog charged me and mine in the city or a stray possibly rabid cougar did it id have no qualms about blowing it away. yelling ‘ shoo’ and ‘ i will shoot!” just doesnt work with mad dogs and criminals. most cats of this sort wisely avoid humans( we have the classic predator faces- eyes forward- even our house cats recognize as such)- clearly there was something off about the cat when a shot wouldnt drive it off.just because you arent threatened by mountain lions on the way to work or your play dates is the only reason you can coo and moan about the poor putty tat. you’d NEVER be in this situation so you have the luxury to think you’d actually take the alleged high road and throw yourself in front of the cat in order to save it. more class bull crap form people who wouldnt know the ass end of a moose from the teeth of a cougar -living in a fantasy land of lions and lambs lying together eating tofu, living in bloodless harmony. word- that aint the real world and if you werent so detached from real nature and how it functions you’d know it. if you threatened her cubs- she’d react the same way as this woman- by taking you out.

  33. Rhonda says:

    There are a few people that might feel like this lady was justified. You can ask the few that survived. Here is a link you should see:
    tchester.org/sgm/lists/lion_attacks_ca.html

  34. Rhonda says:

    There is nothing playful are cuddly about a wild mountain lion. I hope that the people in this forum never come face to face with one in the wild or their backyards. If you think I’m wrong, go ahead, try to give one a hug. I seriously doubt you’ll get the opportunity to share your story with the rest of us.

  35. Don Earl says:

    RE: “If you think I’m wrong, go ahead, try to give one a hug.”

    When I was about 5, my mom took me and my two younger sisters to visit a lady who had a pet cougar.

    So, as someone who has petted a cougar, I’d be inclined to say those who have not are the ones speaking out of ignorance. It’s not like there isn’t a ton of information available online for anyone interested in curing their ignorance on the topic.

    4 million people in the US are attacked by dogs each and every year, but you’d have to go back a hundred years to document a dozen similar incidents involving cougars.

    Why not go to Yahoo or Google and spend a few minutes looking up the topic? The only thing you have to lose is your ignorance. I can pretty well guarantee you that within 15 minutes you will find the story told by a person with a gun standing in front of their trophy wall, after having shot an endangered species of cub, to be less than plausable.

  36. Rhonda says:

    “to visit a lady who had a pet cougar”

    A pet cougar raised around people from a cub and a cougar in the wild aren’t even remotely comparable. Even animals raised in captivity (I’m surprised that you even condoned that it was okay for her to have this wild animal as a pet) are unpredictable. Sure, dogs bite people all the time. Usually these are not fatal. Some are obviously. I don’t agree with hunting an animal for sport. But, given the choice of protecting myself and my dog, I will ensure my survival.


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