As campers, hikers and wildlife enthusiasts get ready to dust off their gear and head into the wild, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) is reminding everyone that we live in mountain lion country. Living in lion country can mean different things to different people—some residents live in mountain lion habitat and some people just recreate there; either way, it’s important for people to be aware and know the basics.
Around the home:
-It is against the law to feed deer or other wildlife in Colorado. Attracting deer to your neighborhood increases the likelihood that mountain lions will follow because deer are a lion’s main food source.
-Closely supervise children when they play outdoors especially around dawn and dusk when lions are most active.
-Make a lot of noise when coming and going, especially from dusk until dawn.
-Turn on outside lights before stepping outside.
-When you are in areas where lions might be present, travel in groups and make lots of noise, especially from dusk until dawn when lions are most active.
-Mountain lion sightings are rare, but if you see one, do NOT approach the lion.
-Stay calm. Back away slowly as running may trigger the lion’s natural predatory instinct.
-Open your jacket and raise your arms to make yourself appear larger than normal.
-Pick up young children so they don’t panic and run away.
-If a lion behaves aggressively, throw rocks, branches, or anything else you can find without —crouching down or turning away. Wave your arms and speak firmly.
-In the rare case that you are attacked by a lion, fight back. Remain standing if possible and try to get up if you are knocked down.
-Keep your pets on a leash. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract lions.
-Bring your pets in at night. If you leave your pet outside, make sure they are in a kennel with a secure top.
-Don’t feed your pets outside as this can attract raccoons, skunks and other animals that are eaten by lions.
For more information on mountain lions, pick up a copy of the DOW publication Living with Wildlife in Lion Country (also available via our Website).
The projected population of mountain lions in Colorado is between 3,000 and 5,000 lions, although true numbers are hard to determine due to the elusive nature of the cats. Lions are active year round and can live to be about 12 years old in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity. Very powerful and muscular, they feed on large prey such as deer and elk, but also eat small mammals including domestic pets. Natural enemies of the lion include other large predators such as bears, other mountain lions and wolves. They also fall victim to accidents, disease, vehicles and people.
Mountain Lions in Colorado generally live in areas of piñon pine, juniper, mountain mahogany, ponderosa pine and oak brush. They are often found in areas where deer are plentiful. Their “home range” can vary in size from 10 to 370 square miles, with females with young kittens occupying a smaller area and adult males using wider expanses.
The Division of Wildlife commissioned a study in April 2006 to get a sense of how the public feel about mountain lions. The study found that most survey respondents were fairly knowledgeable about what to do in case of a lion encounter and the respondents made an effort to be more aware of their surroundings when recreating in known lion habitat. This survey, Public Opinions and Perceptions of Mountain Lion Issues can be viewed on our Website at: MountainLionSurveyResults.
Currently, DOW is developing a Front Range Mountain Lion Research project, which will study the behavior of lions in proximity to human habitat. The location and timeline for the study have not yet been determined. More information on this effort will be released in the coming months.
A second mountain lion study is being conducted by the DOW on the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado. This ten-year study began in 2005 and will help wildlife managers better understand lion density, lion range and how lion hunting can positively or negatively impact lion population management.
For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.
News from the Colorado Division of Wildlife
Contact Name: Jennifer Churchill
Contact Phone: 303-291-7234