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What To Do If You Encounter a Mountain Lion

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on May 15   |   Updated on June 20
A mountain lion poised on a rock

As my dad always says: “If you spot a mountain lion, they spotted you a long time ago!” (Kathleen Reeder Wildlife Photography / Getty Images)

A few weekends ago, visitors at Colorado Springs’ Garden of Gods had the chance to witness (from afar) a rare treat when an adult male mountain lion spent an entire Saturday lounging in a park tree just feet above a popular hiking trail. Experts report this behavior is extremely rare, but say it’s an important reminder for visitors to always be aware of their surroundings. With that in mind, here’s a crash course on mountain lions:

🐾 Where you’ll see them: Mountain lions are most common in areas with dense deer populations (e.g. Colorado Springs and other Colorado mountain towns), their habitats often overlapping with human hiking and biking trails.

🐾 When you’ll see them: These large cats are most active from dusk to dawn. Though they do hunt and travel during the day, they generally stay away from human activity.

🐾 Do they attack? Rarely. Although the Associated Press reported that an attack last week marked the 25th non-fatal mountain lion encounter in Colorado since 1990, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports that there have been fewer than a dozen fatal attacks from lions in North America over the last century.

🐾 What do they look like? Mountain lions are typically a light cinnamon color with black-tipped ears. Not to be confused with lynxes or bobcats, lions are much larger and have a long tail. Adult males can be up to eight feet in length and weigh about 150 pounds on average. Adult females can be up to seven feet long and weigh about 90 pounds on average.

🐾 What to do if you encounter a lion: Stay calm. Moving slowly, give it space. Do not turn your back to it or run away — this could trigger its instinct to chase. Speak loudly and firmly. Try to make yourself appear large. If the lion becomes aggressive, throw stones or sticks to try to scare it away. Report sightings to CPW.

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