VAIL — Skiers and the Vail Ski Patrol have reported mountain lion sightings on the front side of the ski resort, Vail Mountain officials said.
It’s believed that the reports are based on a single mountain lion that wildlife experts suspect is just passing through the area. No confrontations with the animal have been reported.
“We share the mountain with a number of animals that live in the area, and this is a good reminder for guests and employees alike to keep away from wildlife and report any mountain lion sightings right away,” said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain.
MOUNTAIN LION SIGHTINGS RARE
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, people rarely get more than a glimpse of mountain lions, as the big cats are elusive and quiet.
They tend to stay away from people but can be found in areas with adequate cover and plentiful deer.
“Winter mountain lion sightings on Vail Mountain during the daytime are fairly unusual,” said Bill Andree, district wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. “It’s possible that the animal is just passing through in search of elk or deer.”
The mountain lion is Colorado’s largest cat, often more than 6 feet long and weighing 130 pounds or more.
Experts found it strange that one was wandering near a busy ski resort area, but said it’s not uncommon that they would be out hunting in the winter.
They stay active year-round and eat about a deer per week.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE ONE
Skiers or snowboarders who may encounter a mountain lion on Vail Mountain should stay away from the animal and contact Vail Ski Patrol at (970) 754-1111 or Vail Mountain Security at (970) 754-3049. In the event of a mountain lion confrontation, experts advise facing the animal, trying to appear as large as possible by waving your arms or ski poles and making noise.
If the lion behaves aggressively (an extremely rare scenario), then throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on. Lions have been driven away by prey that fought back. Also, Vail Ski Patrol warns that people should not attempt to feed any wildlife on Vail Mountain.
“It’s possible that the animal is just passing through in search of elk or deer.”
District wildlife manager for Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife