Aaron Berscheid is a district wildlife officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Aaron covers the “wild” side of Northeast El Paso County, including Black Forest, Falcon, Peyton and Calhan. He also covers some of Elbert County, north of U.S. Highway 24 and south of State Highway 86, including the towns of Elbert, Kiowa, Ramah, Simla, Matheson and a small portion of the Limon area.
Recent sightings of mountain lions should not trigger fear if you protect your pets, livestock and take proper precautions.
The lore surrounding mountain lions makes the truth about these creatures as elusive as the big cats themselves.
There are many things about mountain lions that can create a lot of fear that may or may not be warranted.
Hopefully, I can give enough information to help anyone who might encounter a mountain lion to be more prepared and aware of how these animals work.
You may have seen reports on social media of mountain lion sightings in and around the Black Forest and Peyton areas.
It’s true mountain lions do live in and around the Black Forest area. But there is not a very large population in the Black Forest/Peyton area, and actual sightings/encounters are very rare.
More often, mountain lions spotted in the area are younger lions simply passing through as they search for their own territory after being kicked out of an adult lion’s domain.
The most important thing to know about mountain lions is that they are afraid of humans. It is very rare to see a mountain lion. The vast majority of sightings are caught on home security cameras and trail cameras.
Rare human encounters usually occur when someone accidentally crosses paths with a lion. They don’t stalk humans.
Mountain lions are most active during dawn and dusk hours pursuing their natural prey, including rabbits, turkey and deer.
It is possible that mountain lions will prey on small livestock and pets. So it is wise to protect your livestock (especially sheep, goats, chickens, and lamas) by keeping them penned starting before dusk and through the night until after the dawn hours.
Small pets should be kept indoors during these same hours and held on a leash when they need to be let out at night.
I think mountain lions get a bad reputation because they are large, powerful predators that sneak around at night. In reality, I think of them as big scaredy cats that do everything they can to stay away from humans and the human presence.
As long as you take steps to protect livestock and pets, the likelihood of an issue with a mountain lion is very rare.
If you do happen to see a mountain lion, feel free to report it to our office and we will document these sightings. Any mountain lion issues with livestock should also be reported.
If you do encounter a lion, it is important to make yourself big and never run away, as this might trigger the lion’s instinctive reaction to chase you.
In the coming months, I’ll share more of those stories as I write about wildlife issues in our community: Got a question, problem or column idea, please email me at email@example.com or call me at 719-227-5231.
I might even answer your question in a future installment of “Wildlife Matters.”