I had the most incredible morning I have had in some time. Only a handful of people IN THE WORLD have had the opportunity to see and do what I experienced this morning...

We were broken into groups that would do several different adventures (like the ornithology from yesterday) Today our group was to take the radio telemetry unit and set out to find a collard Pallas's Cat (click to learn more). To make a long story short, I spotted movement on an outcrop of rocks across from our glassing position. Telemetry said the cat should be in that direction. When we got to the outcrop, we found no cat. Then, our guide looked into one of the holes on the cliff side and quickly looked back at me with big eyes, "CAT!" he exclaimed under his breath.

He decided to snare it out of the rocks with a stick and a loop (which he fashioned out of his shoe laces). He pulled the cat from its hiding spot, kicking, biting, clawing and hissing. The cat escaped with the shoelace neuce still around its neck and dove into a marmot hole. She was fished from the hole and the laces were removed before she escaped again. Apparently I watched too much "Baywatch" as a young man, because I tore after the cat down the mountain side and pulled my coat off as I ran (I call this the "David Hasselhoff Maneuver") and when I got near the cat, I dove on it with my coat!!!

We had hoped that she was a male cat so we could collect semen and place a radio collar on him, but she turned out to be female. So, we set her free one last time. If she could talk, I can only imagine what she would say!

This event is significant to me for several reasons. First, this stroke of luck in finding then capturing this cat is something only a handful of people have ever done. Secondly, this was a hunt, of which there was no killing. It has been harder and harder for me to "pull-the-trigger" on animals while hunting back home. So, this "hunt" was fulfilling in so many ways. I will always treasure the memory of this morning's events.

Note: The day before we arrived at camp, the biologists found a den with a dead mother cat. The litter of 5 kittens were taken back to camp to be monitored and fed as they would not have survived on their own. The biologists were constantly trapping field mice and gerbils in small metal live traps called "Sherman Traps". At feeding time, they would shake the Sherman Traps enough to stun and slow down the mice so that kittens could catch them and eat. This is how the Russian vans got the nickname "Sherman's" because the occupants in the vans feel like the gerbils being shaken senseless in the traps!!!

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