Mountain lion sightings can happen — and do happen — across Colorado (video)
With this week’s news of a man’s shocking tale of survival against a mountain lion in Larimer County, it’s important to realize spotting the animal can happen in many places across Colorado.
Granby resident Luis Gutierrez shared a photo that he took Feb. 4 of a mountain lion perched on a home’s deck in C Lazy U.
“They deff (sic) out and about, not only on hiking trails but around homes,” Gutierrez said.
Mountain lions are common in Colorado, considering its climate and geography. But the lions, which are an especially reclusive animal, aren’t spotted frequently. When they are, however, it can be startling.
The attack this week in Larimer County reignites concerns as to the level of danger potentially posed by mountain lions.
Officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife have urged caution when encountering mountain lions, but said empathically that lions “are not considered a problem.”
“We live in an area with a robust lion population,” said Mike Porras, public information officer for parks and wildlife. “If lions were hunting humans there would be many more incidents. Coloradans have lived near lions for a very long time and incidents are rare.”
But the incidents do happen.
A notable local mountain lion attack occurred in 1997 in Rocky Mountain National Park. A young boy was hiking with a group, got ahead of his party and was attacked by a mountain lion. When the lion attacked, the boy vomited and choked, ultimately dying of asphyxiation. The mountain lion involved in that incident was killed after coming to reclaim the boy’s body and attacking park rangers.
“Lions are opportunistic predators,” said Porras. “It is important to know what to do if they (the public) encounter one.”
Parks and wildlife recommends walking or hiking in groups in lion country and for hikers to carry a sturdy walking stick, which can be used to ward off a lion if one does attack. Do not approach a lion if you see one. Do not run away from a lion as it could stimulate the animal’s instinct to chase and lead to an attack.
Staying calm and talking calmly and firmly to lions while backing away slowly is a good exit strategy if you encounter a lion. Making yourself appear as large as possible is also a good idea and if you have small children protect them by picking them up. That can also prevent the children from running away in fear.
If you see a lion that appears to be acting aggressively, parks and wildlife suggests throwing stones, branches or anything you can get your hands on, without crouching, at the animal.
“What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to the lion,” according to parks and wildlife.
Lance Maggart, Sky-Hi News reporter, contributed to this story.
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