As chances increase for mountain lion-human conflicts, CPW tries new tools for education

Four-episode video series covers topics such as what to do when encountering a cougar

Staff report
A mountain lion rests in a tree. Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimates there are at least 3,800 mature mountain lions in the state.
CPW/courtesy photo

With warmer weather around the corner and chances for mountain lion encounters increasing, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is trying to get the attention of residents in the state.

CPW released a video series Sunday to try to educate people about the elusive animals.

“Sightings of mountain lions are increasing, and we’ve had a couple high-profile attacks in the last two years,” CPW director Dan Prenzlow said in a prepared statement. “Thanks to sound management practices implemented over the years, mountain lions are doing quite well in Colorado. The challenge going forward will be balancing decreasing habitats and our exploding human populations, since we share the same spaces. This video series is meant to lay that all out.”

There have been 25 documented cases of humans being attacked by mountain lions in Colorado since 1990, according to CPW. One attack occurred in the Woody Creek area when a 5-year-old boy was attacked while playing in his front yard in June 2016. The boy’s mom reached into the mountain lion’s mouth and pulled her son’s head out of the animal’s jaws, according to authorities.

Two mountain lions around 9-months-old were tracked and killed in the area. They didn’t appear to be sick or injured but showed no fear of humans, wildlife officers said at the time.

CPW occasionally puts up signs along trails in the Roaring Fork Valley warning of recent mountain lion activity.

CPW estimates there are between 3,800 and 4,400 independent/mature mountain lions in the state, as well as an undetermined number of dependent young.

The agency received 868 reports of mountain lion sightings and incidents last year. About one in nine involved sightings on home security or trail cameras around homes.

About 17% of the calls involved conflicts with livestock and another 11% were reports of mountain lions attacking deer, which comes as no surprise. Mountain lions thrive where deer are present.

As Colorado’s population grows, CPW wants to educate people about mountain lion behavior with the short, informative videos. The four installments in CPW’s mountain lion series are:

Episode 1: “Mountain lion biology and historical perspective.”

Episode 2: “Mountain lion habitat and human expansion.”

Episode 3: “Hunting.”

Episode 4: “What to do if you encounter a mountain lion.”

The series can be found on CPW’s YouTube page, then by clicking on Mountain Lions in Colorado.