While paddling on Harper Lake, I spotted some movement at the remote west end of the lake. As I approached closer I could see two cubs in the open as well as the longer/larger mother partially hidden in the forest. Cougar cubs stay up to 2 years with their mother before they are driven off to fend for themselves. These two were already over a year old so they will be on their own in the spring.
The mother cougar kept an eye on me, though. Mostly she stayed hidden, but I was able to drift to a clearer view. Cougars are polygamous, with males mating with several females. The females are fertile by 2 to 3 years of age and can mate at any time of the year. Babies gestate for up to 96 days then the mother will look for a den to have her young. One to four babies are born in a litter. Their eyes are closed at birth, but are open withing 2 weeks. The kittens are nursed for 5 – 6 weeks then start to eat meat.
The mother cougar decided that was enough and led her young along the south shoreline in search of prey. They range in an area of 5 to 25 square miles so there were probably many miles to go before the ed-of-the-day sleep.