Mountain lion sighting prompts warning for Eagle County residents

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. – A recent sighting of a mountain lion in a Gypsum neighborhood had town officials busy over the weekend.

Town officials sent out warnings throughout the weekend and again on Tuesday, to let people know about the silent wanderer.

Mountain lions are active all year in Eagle County, but hunt closer to areas where people live, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife official who spoke to the Vail Daily.

Mountain lions will also occasionally attack pets, according to the official, who suggested people turn on their outdoor lights and make noise when letting pets out at night, the newspaper reported.

The increase in mountain lion sightings is due to several factors, wildlife officials said. Some of these include: more people moving into their habitat, an uptick in deer population, as well as more people using hiking trails in lion habitat.

Live near mountain lion territory? Follow these tips to keep you, your family and your pets safe:

  • Go in groups when you walk or hike in mountain lion country 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 who 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 and 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, then protect them by picking them up so they won't panic and run.
  • If the lion behaves aggressively, then throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on 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 you may in fact be a danger to the lion.
  • Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey which fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. Remain standing or try to get back up.

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