Mountain lion sighting in New Castle a good reminder
While mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare, the recent fatal attack in Washington state — its first fatal mountain lion attack in nearly a century — has wildlife officials cautioning people living near cougar populations to always be aware of their surroundings, especially when out in nature.
“If you’re in the backcountry, being aware of your surroundings is critical,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife public information officer Mike Porras said. “People need to be aware what to do.”
If you do come across a mountain lion out in the wild, Porras said the best thing you can do is to stand your ground, waves your arms and talk firmly to it.
“Don’t turn and run,” he added. “If you turn and run, its instincts will likely kick in and it will chase you down.”
If the confrontation escalates and the mountain lion approaches you, Porras recommended trying to throw things at it and act as aggressively as possible.
“Lions are primarily looking for four-legged prey,” he said. “Their diet mainly consists of mule deer and they are not used to prey attacking and fighting back.”
Sightings of mountain lions in parts of Colorado are common, according to Porras.
New Castle resident Brian Olaf reported a recent mountain lion sighting near his home. He is missing two cats, and indicated that other small animals have gone missing nearby.
“There are healthy populations of lions in the state of Colorado,” Porras said. “They are pure carnivores and are mainly looking for four-legged prey, but will not differentiate between your pet and prey.
He said it is not unusual for a mountain lion to jump the fence into residents’ backyards.
Porras recommends that anyone contact CPW if you see a mountain lion in your neighborhood.
A mountain lion attacked a young boy in a yard in the Woody Creek neighborhood near Aspen in 2016. Cougars also are occasionally observed via infrared cameras along portions of the Rio Grande Trail, mostly at night or in the early-morning hours, and occasional sightings have been reported in the South Glenwood area.
“If there is a sizable population of mule deer, it’s likely there are lions close by,” Porras added.
Mountain lions are typically very shy, and one can go an entire life in Colorado without seeing one.
Reports indicate that the cougar that attacked two mountain bikers outside of Seattle was malnourished and showed unusually aggressive behavior.
“Based on what we know, that’s not typical mountain lion behavior — considering how many mountain bikers we have out here, we’d be hearing more about these attacks,” Porras added.
“But people need to know what to do and come prepared,” he said.
He recommends carrying a stick or bear spray on hikes and does not suggest ever wearing headphones in the backcountry.
For more information on what to do if you encounter a mountain lion or other wildlife, visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife Living with Wildlife at goo.gl/VVM88J.
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