Sightings of mountain lions are becoming more common in Colorado as more people move into and recreate in their habitat. Colorado Parks and Wildlife says that while attacks by cougars on people are exceedingly rare, the agency still advises exercising some caution.
Mountain lions can move significant distances while seeking prey, explained Conrad Albert, a district wildlife manager in the San Luis Valley. So it’s not unusual for them to be spotted in urban and rural areas.
“Most times they are just moving through in their pursuit of deer, their primary prey,” Albert said.
Conflicts between humans and cougars are rare. The most common problems occur when they prey on pets or farm animals. If you live in mountain lion habitat, follow these tips to avoid interactions with lions.
◾ Hiking: Hike with a partner, carry a pole or stick, and make some noise as you're moving along. When hiking with children keep them close. Because lions are most active at night, be most cautious when hiking at dawn and dusk.
◾ If you see a cougar: Most people never see a mountain lion. Those that do usually catch only a fleeting glance. Here are some tips if you do come into close contact with a lion: don't run because that action can trigger a lion's predator response; raise your arms over your head and make yourself look big, then back away slowly; talk to it firmly in a loud voice; if possible throw a stick or rock at the animal.
◾ Children: Tell children to play close to the house, especially at dusk; tell them to go indoors if they see a mountain lion; tell them to make themselves look big and to yell at the lion.
◾ Around the house: Clear brush away from buildings and the yard to eliminate hiding places; install motion detectors for night lighting. Do not provide food for any wildlife―even a bird-feeder can attract deer and raccoons, which, in turn, can attract cougars.
◾ Pets: If pets are outside unattended, they should be kept in an enclosed pen; pets should be brought indoors at dusk; don't allow pets to roam free—they might become prey or they could chase and injure wildlife.
Check out this informative video about mountain lions from Colorado Parks and Wildlife: