Sighting of mountain lion on street strikes fear in Redstone residents
A recent report of a mountain lion strolling down Redstone’s main street has raised fears, and state wildlife officials are urging caution.The reports are credible, according to a Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman, although an officer sent to investigate has found no tangible evidence of a lion.”The reality is, we live in some of the most prime mountain lion habitat in North America,” said DOW spokesman Randy Hampton. Hampton, who works in the agency’s Grand Junction office, said he had spoken with the DOW’s Crystal River manager, John Groves, who has received reports of the lion sighting on Redstone Boulevard.Hampton said Groves has visited the small community, about 18 miles south of Carbondale, and is “keeping an eye on things.”But Hampton said Groves’ inspection turned up no direct, clear evidence of the lion.In a voicemail message, Groves said he was told the lion “was being active in the middle of the day, on the boulevard,” which is not a normal activity for the animals.Hampton said the lion simply may be “passing through the area,” following migrating deer and elk, which are a major source of its food and are now from the river valleys up into the high country. He said lion sightings typically increase in spring and fall because the animals are more active than during the winter or summer months.Hampton suggested a few precautions for anyone living in Redstone or other areas lions may frequent: Do not feed deer and elk; it is illegal and could attract lions. Do not leave pet food or dirty grills outside and easily accessible, and do not let pets roam around at dusk and dawn, the most active time for prowling and hungry lions. If animals are kept outside, keep them in lion-proof enclosures. Do not allow children to play on their own away from the house at dusk or dawn. When hiking or jogging in the woods, do so in the company of at least one other person.”If there’s [mountain lion] activity in the area, it’s very wise for people to be cautious,” Hampton said. “But that’s not to say nobody should go outside.”He said the first rule for people who encounter a mountain lion is “do not turn and run away. That will activate its chase instinct,” and lions move much faster than humans can. Rather, he said, “the idea is to make yourself seem big,” by opening up a jacket or shirt and holding it wide, raising hands and arms, and making noise of some sort, which should frighten the lion away.He said it is not a bad idea to grab a stick or a rock if any are handy, but it’s best to be quick about it because stooping down “makes you look small, like food.”Finally, he said, “If attacked, fight back. Playing dead may work with grizzly bears,” but it is not effective against “whatever can attack you in Colorado,” such as lions or black bears. He pointed out that when a lion attacked a young boy near Boulder recently, he survived because his family attacked the lion and drove it off.”A mountain lion at the shopping mall or the elementary school is a dangerous mountain lion,” Hampton said. But in the high areas of the Western Slope, he said, a mountain lion is a normal part of the ecology and not necessarily a danger.He said people who spot a mountain lion should call the DOW as soon as possible, at (970) 947-2920. If the office is closed, he said, a recording contains advice about calling the Colorado State Patrol either in an emergency or to get word to an area DOW ranger.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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