Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

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Jim Davies
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby Jim Davies » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:50 am

3-year-old Jaryd Atadero was probably killed by a mountain lion in 1999.
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby TomPierce » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:30 am

I remember the article about the high school runner that was killed in 1991 (?) near Idaho Springs. Scott?? There's a bridge built in his memory that you can see on the south side of I-70 just before the tunnel east of ISpgs.

I've seen tracks in the snow off trail but never seen one in the wild. The open space parks in the foothills give similar advice as to that posted above: Never turn your back on one, don't run, and to the extent possible try to make yourself appear larger (e.g. arms overhead, etc.)
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby leggaj5 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:59 am

Just another reason my unleashed dog packs heat.
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby TallGrass » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:19 am

jdorje wrote:Also from my reading...the mountain lion's closest living relatives are the cheetah and the housecat.


It was Felis concolor up until 1993, but now Puma as in Puma concolor or Puma concolor couguar (the U.S. sub').
Attack list, at least, "known" attacks. :-$ :twisted: *moo-ha-ha-ha*

Old taxonomy under "COUGAR" (aka, catamount, cat-of-the-mountain, puma, Florida panther, mountain lion, ...)
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby Scott P » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:20 am

If correct, there have been 20 known fatal attacks from cougars in 121 years. 11 of them were in the US. Two of the 11 were in Colorado:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_cougar_attacks_in_North_America

By way of comparison, there were 35 fatal dog in the US last year alone.

The point is not that all dogs are dangerous, but that the chances of getting killed by a cougar and many times less than they are from getting attacked by a dog while walking down the city street. Cougar attacks are very rare.
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby IHikeLikeAGirl » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:40 am

Dave,

Glad you and your little beagle fared well also! What an amazing sight that must have been. :)

Jim Davies wrote:I don't know if you saw this; hopefully it won't make you more worried. ...
http://www.gazette.com/articles/dog-152434-owner-lion.html
...
The dog was grabbed and eaten in a gated community off Star Ranch Road by the large male cat. The lion yanked the leash from the owner’s hands and ran off with the pooch.

I heard of a similar story near Palmer Lake a few months back...odd. Couldn't find a news reference to it though so, maybe the person got the area mixed up.

I live REALLY close to Star Ranch Rd and yes, there are usually 1 or 2 mountain lion sightings in my area every other year. There's an open area in the neighborhood where I let my dog run loose, occasionally she comes back with part of a dismembered deer (one time the body part was fresh). Reading all this doesn't worry me more, it makes me feel better...realizing that the big cats are pretty much everywhere and that maybe the trails aren't anymore dangerous than my own neighborhood.

When I first saw the tracks, my initial reaction was, "I am NEVER going up this way again." But after thinking it over and knowing how much I despise how crowded Barr Trail is (and how impossible it is to take my dog on it)...I'll continue with my solitary, dog friendly, route to Barr Camp.

Two things I'll do different next time though.
1. Invest in an air horn. (Do those work on pumas?)
2. Take milk bones in lieu or chicken and steak for my dog. Lily won't like that idea, but I'm guessing I won't smell as tasty.

Also, I sometimes put a bell on my dog to warn bears. Is that a good approach to mountain lions too or does that just create a nice tracking beacon for them?
Last edited by IHikeLikeAGirl on Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby Scott P » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:47 am

Also, I sometimes put a bell on my dog to warn bears. Is that a good approach to mountain lions too or does that just create a nice tracking beacon for them?


When we were in Alaska in 2011, the NPS told us that bear bells are no longer recommended because they have been found (SE AK at least) to be more of an attractant than a deterrent. Apparently, there at least, bears were associating them with marmot calls and marmot is one of their favorite snacks. Or so we were told.
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby peter303 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:52 am

Being killed by a mountain is about a hundred times less common that falling off a 14er, avalanche, or ski death. About 3 lion kills in the past 25 years compared to a couple hundred of each of the others.

I do have to admit that fear of wild animals is still in uor genes and seems more scary than these other things.
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby pseudoghost » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:03 pm


Two things I'll do different next time though.
1. Invest in an air horn. (Do those work on pumas?)
2. Take milk bones in lieu or chicken and steak for my dog. Lily won't like that idea, but I'm guessing I won't smell as tasty.

Also, I sometimes put a bell on my dog to warn bears. Is that a good approach to mountain lions too or does that just create a nice tracking beacon for them?


Personally, I think you're overreacting to the situation. The one thing that you should absolutely do though, is to keep your dog on a leash. As for the others:

An air horn might help, but it's really hard to say. I've heard anecdotes about air horns scaring off black bears and other large animals before, but no guarantees. Bear spray is unlikely to be effective as mountain lions typically ambush their prey. If you get attacked, you likely won't know it until it's far too late.

Don't bother changing your dog's treats. A lion is likely not looking into you because you're carrying dog treats. If anything, it's looking to eat your dog.

In general, bear bells do not work. They're not loud enough to actually warn anything that you're coming from a significant distance, and animals do not associate the sound with humans. But if it makes you feel better, then sure.
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby Jim Davies » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:20 pm

IHikeLikeAGirl wrote:I heard of a similar story near Palmer Lake a few months back...odd. Couldn't find a news reference to it though so, maybe the person got the area mixed up.

About 20 years ago, there was a news report of a mountain lion killing somebody's leashed dog in their back yard in Star Ranch, then repeatedly trying to jump over the fence with the dog in its mouth, only to have the leash yank it back. Poor kitty...

Personally, the scariest wildlife encounters I've had are with skunks. I once encountered one in the dark while cutting across a field near Star Ranch & Broadmoor Valley roads - fortunately, I was able to back off before I annoyed it.
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby TallGrass » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:30 pm

Scott P wrote:NPS told us that bear bells are no longer recommended because they have been found (SE AK at least) to be more of an attractant than a deterrent.
Ok. Break out the big guns!
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If that doesn't work, then...
Image Image Image

Two legitimate signs. And if you have a smart phone, you can use the screen side camera (self-portraits) as a rear view mirror if worried about being followed/stalked after spotting one (if you hear brush cracking each time you turn around, your are). Hmm, maybe a bicycle helmet mirror clipped on your BD Halfdome? :mrgreen: And some DO suggest using bear spray as both bears and cats have sensitive snoots; rather, would you want to be found dead next to cat scat and an unused can?
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:
"A few hours' mountain climbing make of a rogue and a saint two fairly equal creatures.
Tiredness is the shortest path to equality and fraternity - and sleep finally adds to them liberty."
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Re: Mountain Lion Question - What would you do?

Postby MonGoose » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:08 pm

Like others have said, seeing a mountain lion is a very rare occurrence. I had the amazing experience of seeing one years ago while turkey hunting - they are incredible creatures. Personally, I think we have far more close encounters with mountain lions on the trail than we ever even realize. I don't worry about mountain lions because even if one does decide to attack, I'd be dead before I even saw it. They are ambush predators who stalk their prey (primarily deer and elk) and pounce quickly, snapping their neck. They also average one large kill every two weeks. I think a bigger concern for your experience would have been if you had kids hiking with you.

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