Every year, numerous mountain lion sightings are reported in Cordillera. As campers, hikers, and wildlife enthusiasts head into the wild property owners are reminded that this is lion country. Lions are at the top of the food chain and are deserving of the attention they receive.
As predators, lions enjoy the chase and are capable of bringing down fairly large animals on their own, although they normally feed on small animals. A favorite prey of mountain lions are raccoons. As carnivores, virtually all of a mountain lion's diet is meat. There are documented cases of lions attacking pets and people. Statistically, these occurrences are rare, but non-the-less proper precautions must always be taken. Property owners should report sightings to Public Safety, so it can communicate with Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.
Property owners should heed the following precautions:
- Closely supervise children when they play outdoors, especially around dawn and dusk when lions are most active.
- Mow the grass on your lot to eliminate cover for lions, which like to stalk in tall grass and bushes. (Contact the Design Review Board before cutting native areas.)
- Do not leave small children and pets unattended outside during summer. Pets should be on a leash.
- Make noise when coming and going, especially from dusk until dawn.
- Turn on outside lights before stepping outside.
- If you find dead animals that appear to be killed by a lion the lion might be near, so leave the area.
Lion sightings are rare but if you see one:
- Do not approach the lion.
- Stay calm. Back away slowly facing the lion.
- Do not run. Running may trigger the lion's predatory instinct to chase you.
- Open your jacket and raise your arms to make yourself appear larger.
- Pick up young children so they don't panic and run.
- If a lion behaves aggressively, throw rocks, branches or anything you can find without crouching down or turning away.
- Wave your arms and speak firmly.
Fighting Against a Lion
In the rare case you are attacked by a lion:
- Fight back
- Remain standing if possible - try to get up if you are knocked down
Identifying a Mountain Lion, Lynx and Bobcat
Each animal has distinct characteristics but each tend to be elusive. Keep your distance, but consider yourself lucky if you see one of these beautiful creatures.
Of the three cats, the mountain lion is the largest up to 6 feet in length and weighing between 75 - 150 pounds with a long tail.
Bobcats are much smaller between 2-4 feet long and weighing 15 to 29 pounds. Bobcat have shorter tails and typically have distinct spotting on their coats.
Lynx and bobcat are similar in size, with key differences. The lynx foot size is much larger compared to that of a bobcat. Their feet look disproportionate to the size of their bodies with an abundance of fir on their feet. Both cats have shorter tails than the mountain lion; however, the lynx tail is completely black rather than stripped or with a tip of back on top with white underneath like it is for the bobcat. The lynx coloring is uniform, grayish-brown in the winter and reddish in the summer. The bobcat coat will have distinct spots and striping.