A lion attack on two dogs at a home along 4 Mile Road near Glenwood Springs early Thursday morning is prompting Colorado Parks and Wildlife to caution anyone living in lion country to remember a few important tips that can help prevent conflicts with wild animals.
Wildlife officers say the dogs were in their backyard at the time of the attack. They were both taken to a local veterinarian and are expected to survive.
Despite the infrequency of such occurrences, wildlife officers say that it should be taken seriously and urge residents to always keep an eye on pets, livestock and small children.
“An attack like this is rare, especially in a residential area, but it can happen,” said Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will. “Lions are typically shy and reclusive, but they are also opportunistic apex predators. Because dogs have four legs, they resemble a prey item and a lion will take advantage of an opportunity for an easy meal.”
Will adds that lions do not consider humans as prey, but because they are large and powerful, people should be cautious and aware of the potential for interactions.
“There is no need for alarm or panic,” added Will. “But we do urge a healthy respect for lions.”
Wildlife officials say there are several things people can do to reduce the possibility of attracting wild animals to their neighborhood. One of the most important is to avoid feeding wildlife.
“When people feed deer, foxes or other wildlife, it has the potential to eventually attract an animal that eats them, such as mountain lions,” cautioned Will. “Feeding wildlife, or allowing food to be available to them can lead to an increase in wildlife activity around homes or other areas where wild animals do not belong.”
Will and his officers will monitor the area for additional lion sightings. He urges the public to call Colorado Parks and Wildlife or Colorado State Patrol immediately if they have had a close encounter with an aggressive wild animal.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers the following recommendations for people that live in lion country:
– Make lots of noise if you come and go during the times mountain lions are most active—dusk to dawn.
– Install outdoor lighting, especially in areas where you walk so you could see a lion if one were present.
– Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one.
– Remove vegetation to eliminate hiding places for lions, especially around children’s play areas. Make it difficult for lions to approach unseen.
– Planting non-native shrubs and plants that deer often prefer to eat encourages wildlife to come onto your property. Predators follow prey. Don’t feed any wildlife.
– Keep your pet under control. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract lions. Bring pets in at night. If you leave your pet outside, keep it in a kennel with a secure top. Don’t feed pets outside; this can attract raccoons and other animals that are eaten by lions. Store all garbage securely.
– Place livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night. Close doors to all outbuildings since inquisitive lions may go inside for a look.
– Encourage your neighbors to follow these simple precautions. Prevention is far better than a possible lion confrontation.
– When you walk or hike in mountain lion country, go in groups 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 yet 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.
For more information about Living with Wildlife, go to www.cpw.state.co.us/learn/
For more information about living with lions, go to www.cpw.state.co.us/learn/