Recreating In Lion Country
To reduce the likelihood of an encounter, or of an encounter turning into an attack, general alertness of surroundings is highly recommended. Look around —scan the sides of hills, behind rock outcroppings, under bushes and vegetation.
- Make noise so you don’t surprise a lion.
- Bike, hike and ski in groups. Plan your trip so that you get back before dusk.
- Run with a buddy. Do not run alone in lion habitat.
- Do not run at dawn or dusk.
- Before you set out, remind children how they should behave in lion country.
- Always keep children within arm’s reach, preferably holding their hand. If there are two adults, make a “kid sandwich,” an adult in front of and in back of the child or children in the middle.
What To Do If You Meet A Mountain Lion
People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild. Lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years.
Based on the observations by people who have come upon lions, some patterns of behavior and response are beginning to emerge. Encounters with a lion are an interaction — you need to follow these guidelines and assess how the lion responds to your action so you can choose what to do next.
Each situation is unique and Colorado Parks & Wildlife suggests the following tips:
- 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 that 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, protect them by picking them up so they won't panic and run.
- If the lion behaves aggressively, 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 that you may in fact be a danger to the lion.
- Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that 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!