Viral mountain lion video opportunity to educate
Even through a glass door, a full-grown mountain lion staring inside your home can be quite scary as Grand County resident Sarah Bole discovered Thursday evening.
Bole, who lives off County Road 4 near Lake Granby, is familiar with various wildlife trekking through her yard, but she had never seen a mountain lion until she got home from work Thursday and one was outside her back door.
“I thought it was very unusual that my little dog was sitting at the door like that and he didn’t come greet me or anything and then I looked up and the mountain lion was frozen on the patio in med-step,” Bole said. “That’s where the video starts.”
For almost three minutes, Bole videoed as the cat curiously peered at the door, pawed at the window and eventually got spooked off.
Bole posted the video to her Facebook page and a local Facebook page to inform neighbors and within hours it had hundreds of shares and reactions.
“It was the most beautiful animal I’ve ever seen and so powerful and frightening at the same time,” she said.
Bole added that she knew she should’ve made more loud noise to scare the mountain lion away, but by the time she processed her shock of being so close to the elusive predator, it was gone.
“I knew the cat couldn’t come in in my rational brain, but … I’m five feet away and it’s tapping on the glass,” she recalled.
On Friday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife assessed the area and analyzed Bole’s video and trail camera, as well as neighboring trail cameras, to determine that Bole experienced a “pretty rare” encounter of a non-aggressive mountain lion.
Granby wildlife officer Serena Rocksund said the lion most likely was intrigued by the reflection on the glass door and couldn’t actually see Bole inside, though it might have seen her dog, Dash.
“I don’t think the cat could see her but maybe some movement inside,” Rocksund said. “At no point in the video did the mountain lion tr to actively attack the dog, it looked more curious than anything.”
Rocksund added that mountain lions are more active at dawn and dusk, when Bole saw the one outside her house, as well as that the area where Bole lives is in the winter range for deer and elk, which attract the lions.
“All of Grand County is mountain lion country,” Rocksund said. “This time of year (the lions) are moving and following their prey source, which is deer and elk.”
Since the cat wasn’t acting aggressively Rocksund believes it’s not likely that the lion has lost its fear of people.
Still, she encouraged anyone in the area to report any sightings to CPW so they can continue to monitor the mountain lion’s behavior and make sure it doesn’t become aggressive.
“At this point, I couldn’t say there’s a human safety issue,” she said.
Additionally, Rocksund reiterated Bole’s knowledge and encouraged people who encounter a mountain lion to make loud noises to scare it off and to not feed any wildlife, including deer.
“Sarah was making noise but she was being pretty quiet and with interactions like that we recommend people be very vocal and let them know a human is around,” she said. “Mountain lions are naturally scared of people.”
Bole plans to use her experience not only to inform neighbors, but also her students at Middle Park High School, where she teaches English. Bole said she ended up getting a few lessons out of the encounter.
On top of reminding her students how to handle wildlife, Bole said her video of the lion going viral has given her the opportunity to talk with her students about social media.
“The video just went crazy and I want to talk to the kinds about how an innocent post can draw hateful comments,” she said.
Despite the trouble it’s given her, Bole is glad she shared the video. It will serve not only as an educational tool, but also a good reminder.
“We’ve always known that there are mountain lions up here, on our property, in this neighborhood, but you do all the things you’re supposed to do … and I just never expected to see one five feet away looking in my dining room,” Bole said.
For more about living in mountain lion habitat and encounters, go to http://www.cpw.state.co.us/lions.