CPW responds to increase in mountain lion sightings

If you encounter a mountain lion, make noise, make yourself appear larger and don’t approach it. If a lion behaves aggressively, throw objects at it and fight back if it attacks.
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Representatives with Colorado Parks and Wildlife are hoping to ease the minds of community members concerned with a number of recent mountain lion sightings in the county.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has received numerous calls over recent weeks from residents in Silverthorne who’ve spotted mountain lions traveling through town — primarily behind the north branch of the Summit County Library at the base of Ptarmigan Peak. Tom Davies, a district wildlife manager for CPW, said lions making their way through the area are largely nothing to worry about.

“We don’t think this is even really an issue,” said Davies. “We’re just trying to stay on top of it, and stop people from panicking themselves for no reason. There’s been a few sightings in Silverthorne. People are freaked out because they think something bad will happen. But this is nothing out of the ordinary. We live next to their habitat, we built our houses on their habitat, and living so close it’s to be expected wildlife is going to move through parts of town.”

Davies said that none of the reports noted the animals were behaving aggressively, and noted that mountain lion attacks on humans are very rare. According to CPW, there’s been fewer than a dozen mountain lion fatalities in North America in the past century.

“We’ve had very few attacks in Colorado,” said Davies. “There have been a couple of attacks this year, which is out of the ordinary. On just your average day, this isn’t an issue. But you always need to be mindful about it because it always has the potential to be an issue. “

Davies said that individuals who come in contact with a mountain lion should never approach the animal, never turn their backs on it, and either stop until the lion leaves or back away slowly. Individuals should also do what they can to appear larger — including raising your arms over your head and opening your jacket if you’re wearing one. Hikers should try to travel in groups, and be sure to keep children and pets close at all times.

If a mountain lion is behaving aggressively, individuals should throw stones or branches — anything you can grab without crouching or turning your back — to convince the lion you’re not prey and could be dangerous. If a lion attacks, fight back as best as possible, and try to remain standing. For more information on living in mountain lion territory, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s mountain lion page on their website.

“We do live in their habitat,” said Davies. “And we need to be able to share that habitat together without incidents. People taking their roles seriously is very important in making sure that bad interactions don’t happen.

Individuals who encounter a mountain lion should contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife at 970-255-6100.

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