CO: Carbondale Cougar Incidents Prompt Reminder

CARBONDALE, Colo. – A mountain lion attacked and killed a pet
dog at a ski area outside of Carbondale, prompting Colorado Parks
and Wildlife to remind all residents in the state to take
precautions in areas where conflicts with wildlife are
possible.

A resident living near the Sunlight Ski Resort told a wildlife
officer that an attack happened when she let her dogs walk outside
at approximately 10 p.m., Wednesday. She ran out to her deck after
hearing distressed barking, and watched as a mountain lion ran off
with her 14 year-old poodle/shih tzu mix in its mouth.

“As troubling as the incident may seem, residents in this area
need to remember that they live in mountain lion country and this
can happen anytime,” said Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will. “Lions
are opportunistic predators, so we caution people to keep a close
eye on their dogs, cats or other domesticated animals.”

Wildlife managers take human safety or loss of livestock into
consideration when deciding whether to relocate or lethally manage
a predator. However, they do not typically kill a lion that preys
on an unsupervised pet.

“It does not appear to be a threat to people right now, but we
will continue to monitor the situation, and we will take action if
it becomes aggressive towards humans,” said Will.

Although mountain lions are typically reclusive and avoid
humans, people occasionally encounter the big cats in areas where
there is an abundance of their natural prey, such as mule deer, or
other smaller species such as raccoons, skunks, porcupines and
other similar wildlife.

Wildlife officers also received a report of another mountain
lion inside the city limits of nearby Carbondale on Thursday, the
day after the attack on the dog.

Sightings of mountain lions within Carbondale city limits may be
uncommon, said District Wildlife Manager John Groves, but they are
not completely unexpected. Groves said it appeared the lion was no
longer within city limits and had likely moved on.

“People should remember that we are in an area where lions exist
in significant numbers, and a sighting can happen anytime,” he
said. “However, we do ask the public to let us know quickly if they
see a lion in an area where they are not normally seen.”

As mountain lion populations have rebounded in recent decades,
the number of sightings and close encounters in Colorado has
increased. Fatalities, such as the death of an Idaho Springs jogger
in 1991, and attacks, remain exceedingly rare.

“Mountain lions are opportunistic predators and are certainly
powerful enough to kill a human, but they typically choose their
natural, four-legged prey, and tend to avoid anything on two legs,”
said Watchable Wildlife Coordinator Trina Romero.

However, Romero warned that people should not ignore a possible
threat from a lion, and should follow a few basic tips to help
reduce the possibility of an encounter, or attack.

“Try to avoid walking your pet at night,” she said. “Lions have
excellent eyesight and can see you clearly in the dark, but a human
needs light to see, and walking during daylight hours allows you to
see a potential threat.”

Romero also advised people to fight back strenuously if
attacked.

“A lion will retreat if you are able to injure or hurt it during
an attack, so don’t run from it, but do fight back if attacked,”
she said.

Wildlife managers also recommend the following tips:

– When you walk or hike in mountain lion country, go in groups
and make plenty of noise to reduce your chances of surprising a
lion. A sturdy walking stick is a good idea; it can be used to ward
off a lion. Make sure children are close to you and within your
sight at all times. Talk with children about lions and teach them
what to do if they meet one.

– Do not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with
kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation.
Give them a way to escape.

– Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly yet firmly to
it. Move slowly.

– Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may
stimulate a lion’s instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and
stand upright.

– Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your
jacket if you’re wearing one. If you have small children with you,
protect them by picking them up so they won’t panic and run.

– If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or
any item you can quickly grab without crouching down or turning
your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. What you want to
do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact
be a danger to the lion.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds everyone that as the human
population of the state tops 5 million, there will likely be an
increase in encounters. However, the public can avoid serious
conflicts by following a few recommended suggestions that can help
them live with wildlife responsibly.

To learn more about living with mountain lions, please visit:
http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Mammals/Pages/LionCountry1.aspx

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:
http://wildlife.state.co.us.

 

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