Facts About Mountain Lions You Should Know
Adults have a tan or reddish brown to dusky or slate gray coat; young have numerous black spots that mostly disappear with age.
Their long tail is about two-thirds of body length. They weigh about 70-150 pounds, and stand 25-32 inches tall at the shoulder (similar to a German shepherd dog), and can be up to eight feet long.
They can live up to 13 years in wild, but average less than 6 years. Territory sizes range from 10 to 150 square miles.
They typically stalk and ambush prey from high vantage points like trees or rock ledges and they can jump 20 feet upwards and 40 feet horizontally in a single leap.
Mountain lions have always lived here; this is their habitat and hunting grounds. Problems occur because their territory is shrinking as human development expands. This can lead to conflicts.
Lions will stay in the area if they have access to food, water or shelter. Food includes deer, Javelina, rabbits, domestic animals or livestock. Water exists in fountains, ponds or a pet’s water bowl. Drought and wildfires may push mountain lions closer to urban areas.
People, who provide food for deer, are only attracting mountain lions to their neighborhood, and it’s illegal to do so, according to most Game & Fish Departments.
Shy and elusive but that doesn’t mean they are not there.
March 24, 2017 – A family was enjoying Goldwater Lake, Prescott, Arizona at dusk this past Friday when they saw something that froze them in their tracks.
They had been playing in the waterfall where the creek feeds into the lake. Heading back to the parking lot, the father thought the children, a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter, were within a safe distance.
“My daughter was little bit behind us, 6 to 10 feet. My wife looked around to check on her and saw the mountain lion coming straight at her. We froze.”
Then he and his wife started screaming and yelling, the kids were “crying like crazy.” He said the lion was crouched down as if to attack, but then scampered back six feet before turning around again and looking at them.
“We picked up the kids and it started walking away, then it got closer and watched us the whole way back to the parking lot,” he said.
How To Avoid Contact With A Mountain Lion
Hike or walk in groups and make some noise when you’re outside. Supervise children, especially between dusk and dawn. Keep domestic pets, poultry, goats and rabbits inside or in a secured enclosure with a sturdy roof. Walk your pets on a leash. Don’t feed your pets outside. Don’t feed wildlife. It’s illegal and remove dense vegetation around your home.
What Should You Do When You Encounter A Mountain Lion
If you do come close to a mountain lion, don’t run. Their instinct is to chase you. Most will try to avoid you; give them a way to escape. Stay calm, speak loudly and firmly. Stand and face the animal; make eye contact. Protect small children so they won’t panic and run.
Convince the lion you are not easy prey. Make yourself larger by raising your arms, spreading your jacket. Wave your arms slowly. Throw stones, branches, whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back.
Slowly back away toward a building, vehicle or busy area. Don’t stop to take a photo. Fight back if attacked. Mountain lions will try to bite the head or neck; try to remain standing and face the animal. Use whatever you can find to fight with – rocks, jackets, tools, even mountain bikes.
Don’t run, stand and face the animal, and make noise. Make yourself larger.
Reporting A Sighting Of A Mountain Lion
Somebody is driving home and a lion crosses the road. It’s not at all unusual. Across America, most mountainous areas are pretty good lion habitat. Officials will enter sightings into the data system, but seldom take action unless lions exhibit stalking behaviors or are seen repeatedly near a school.
Most Game & Fish departments consider removing/killing a mountain lion as a last resort. Relocation is rarely successful and usually ends in severe injury or death to one or more lions occupying the new territory. A person may only harm a lion in self-defense or to defend another person.
The public is advised to report any sightings to their local Game & Fish Department.