Be Aware While Venturing Into Mountain Lion Habitat
Most of Colorado’s Front Range, mountains, and canyon terrain provide mountain lion habitat. Attacks on humans by mountain lions are rare; however, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) wants to remind residents and visitors to be aware of the potential to encounter a lion when you are hiking, biking and camping.
A Willow Springs resident hiking with a dog on Wild Turkey Trail west of the subdivision recently encountered a mountain lion. The dog was off leash when it encountered the lion. The dog ran back to the owner with the mountain lion in pursuit. The resident was able to scare the mountain lion off using a tree branch. The dog received scratch wounds and is expected to recover.
CPW recommends these tips for recreating and living in mountain lion country:
• When hiking, make noise and talk to hiking partners. Making noise reduces the possibility of surprising a lion and increases the chances that they’ll move away.
• Keep children in front of you and within sight.
• Carry a walking stick or hiking pole to use in case of a confrontation. Pepper spray is also recommended.
• Keep dogs on a leash. Confrontations between dogs and mountain lions are common. Most dogs will run away from lions; but that might mean that as they return to their owner a lion could be in pursuit.
• If you see a mountain lion do not try to get closer for a better look.
• If you come face-to-face with a lion, stop and stay calm. DO NOT RUN! Raise your arms above your head to appear larger and threatening. Pull a jacket or a pack above your head. Back up slowly and talk in a loud voice to the lion.
• If you are attacked, fight back aggressively to scare the animal away. Stay on your feet.
• Explain these tips to your children and practice with them.
• Keep yards clean, trim shrubs and other cover, don’t leave pet food outside, and don’t put meat in compost piles.
• Do not feed deer.
• Protect your pets by bringing them in at night or keeping them in a fully enclosed kennel.
In general, lions are reclusive and avoid human contact. The chances of seeing mountain lions in Colorado are rare, so the chances of being attacked are even lower. However, people need to remember that these amazing creatures live amongst us.
For more information on mountain lions, please contact the CPW office at 303-291-7227 or visit the CPW lion page at http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlifeLion1.aspx