Reports of mountain lion sightings are increasing in Colorado Springs, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Michael Seraphin said residents need to be educated about this elusive animal.
"They don't arbitrarily attack people. It's, in fact, quite rare. However, they are wild animals. They are predators and people need to exercise some caution," said Seraphin.
Seraphin explained a theory that suggests mountain lions associate four-legged animals with food, and two-legged animals with danger. He said, mountain lions are more likely to attack residents pets than they are humans.
"Be aware that there are mountain lions in our community. Do what you can to keep yourself and your family safe," he said.
Here are some mountain lion safety tips from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:
- If you see a lion, do not approach it. Stay calm and stand upright. Talk loudly and firmly at the lion and back away slowly. Do not turn your back.
- Do not run. Some experts believe that running can trigger a predator instinct in mountain lions; the lion will react to you the same way it reacts to a fleeing deer or elk.
- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms and hold your jacket or shirt open wide.
- Mountain lions tend to avoid people and rarely attack unless cornered. A cougar that is about to attack may have ears held back, snarl or growl, or twitch its tail.
- If the lion appears aggressive, throw stones, branches, your backpack or anything that is handy.
- If attacked, fight for your life. Use any weapon and advantage available such as rocks, binocular or flashlight. Direct your defense to vulnerable areas such as eyes, inner nose and ears, ribs and abdomen.
- Stay in groups when hiking, cycling or running in lion country. Do not let small children hike or play alone.
- Make enough noise when hiking, cycling or running that you do not get too close without them hearing you coming. Lions that hear you coming will leave an area before you get there.
- If you find a dead animal on or near your property, have it removed promptly. Mountain lions often cover dead animals with leaves or dirt and return later to feed.
- Keep yards and residences well-lit at night.
- Remove plant shrubs next to your home where mountain lions can hide.
- Keep dogs and other pets inside. If you keep dogs in a kennel, be sure it is enclosed with a screen on top. Dogs have been trapped and attacked inside their own open-top kennels.
- Take proactive measure to secure fencing for chickens, goats and other farm animals.