Felis concolor, better known as cougar, panther, catamount, puma or just plain mountain lion, once inhabited a lot of territory where it is now thought to be extinct. Yet reports of its presence still persist in some of these areas, and South Carolina is one of them.
Last week, for instance, the wives of two plantation owners were riding along a road near Congaree swamp, 10 miles south of Columbia, when they spotted a pair of animals "big as Chesapeake retrievers, tawny-colored and with tails dragging the ground." Both women know bobcats, insist what they saw must be "panthers." The following day a pack of cat hounds were put into the Congaree area and ran something for 12 hours before giving up. During the chase a field hand, unaware of the panther report, claims that "a big brown cat with a long tail came across the field with the dogs about 100 yards behind it."
To bolster the women's story there are statements by swamp hunters over the past year which tell of finding tracks twice the size of any bobcat's.
Skeptics, meanwhile, are holding out for a carcass.
REDUCTION IN FORCE
Yellowstone National park affords a fundamental example of what happens when nature is thrown out of balance. Recently it became apparent that 12,000 elk were many more than Yellowstone's browse could support. The animals stripped hillsides of grass and small trees. Rain washed the unsupported earth, streams became silted, erosion set in. With too many elk and too little range, wildlife officials had no alternative but to reduce the herd. Hunters outside park limits were permitted to kill almost 4,000 animals. Park rangers harvested some 2,000 more, and 645 were trapped to restock depleted elk ranges in Montana and New Mexico. Yellowstone elk now fit their range. They may increase again. The size of their range never will.
Among last week's notable catches: a 19-pound 12-ounce STEELHEAD caught in the Skagit River near Mt. Vernon by Mike Cook, age 5, after a one-hour tussle. A veteran steelheader, with four fish to his credit this season, Mike was unassisted except by his grandmother, Mrs. C. L. Cook, who held on to his shirttails lest the rampaging rainbow haul him into the fast-running river; an 11-pound 2-ounce LARGEMOUTH BASS caught at Center Hill Lake's Indian Creek by Louis C. Purcell, of Madison, Tenn.; a 9-pound 2-ounce BONEFISH caught by K. K. Knickerbocker of Charlottesville, Va., who also took 72 other bonefish with fly and spinning tackle in four days of fishing the flats of Andros Island in the Bahamas; a 33-pound STRIPED BASS caught in the surf at Virginia Beach, Va. by Maurice Davenport of Lynnhaven, Va.; a 471-pound GIANT SEA BASS caught off the Enyu Dock at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands by Servicemen Robert Schook and Pitts Joyner, using a specially forged hook attached to an airplane cable leader and an 800-pound-test nylon line; a 34-pound STRIPED BASS caught by George Rebelle of Knightsten, Calif., near Frank's Resort; a 136-pound YELLOW-FIN TUNA caught by George Goodell of Grandville, Conn., fishing out of Tavernier, Fla.; a 20-pound STEELHEAD caught by Vance Reeves of Tacoma, Wash, in the Cowlitz River near Kosmos; a 9�-pound LARGEMOUTH BASS caught at Tennessee's Center Hill Lake by Walker Barnes of Winchester, Ky.
SO—season opened (or opens); SC—season closed (or closes).
C—clear water; D—wafer dirty or roily; M—water muddy.
N—water at normal height; SH—slightly high; H—high; VH—very high; L—low; R—rising; F—falling.
WT50—water temperature 50�.
FG—fishing good; FF—fishing fair; FP—fishing poor; OG—outlook good; OF—outlook fair; OP—outlook poor
TROUT: CALIFORNIA: SO April 1 for Topaz Lake on California-Nevada border and OG as lake is almost full and weather is warm.