Mountain Lion Snarling Photo Credit: KeithSzafranski (iStock)

Photo Credit: KeithSzafranski (iStock)

The reported number of mountain lion sightings in southwest Colorado this year has already surpassed that of 2020, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). 

There have been 107 reported mountain lion sightings already this year in the southwest corner of the state, compared to the 72 total sightings in the area last year. 

These include sightings in Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties. Notably, there have also been 67 reported sightings in Boulder County so far this year. 

“Mountain lions are rarely seen but are common throughout western Colorado,” said CPW senior wildlife biologist Jamin Grigg in a press release.

“They prey primarily on deer and elk and are likely to be present anywhere deer and elk are abundant. They are generally shy around humans but are also very curious, similar to house cats," he said. 

There are a few reasons why mountain lion sightings are on the rise, according to the release. 

Technology like doorbell and security cameras have contributed to the increase, by capturing images and videos of the animals that would have gone unnoticed before.  

“We are getting more calls now when someone picks up a lion on their doorbell camera,” said Area 15 Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Steve McClung. “That technology has led to people seeing a lot more lions and bears that have always been around our area, they just weren’t being seen as much.”

The increase in outdoor recreation throughout the state is another reason humans seem to be crossing paths more often with the cats. 

Even so, attacks are not on the rise. 

In fact, only five of the mountain lion encounters that were reported to CPW's Durango office this year suggested that the animals were displaying aggressive behavior, records show. 

According to the release, there have only been 23 reported mountain lion attacks in Colorado since 1990, and only a handful full of mountain lion related fatalities in the country over the last 100 years. 

“If a lion allows you to see it, it’s likely not acting in a predatory manner,” Grigg said. 

Occasionally, a lion will bluff-charge, which is a protective behavior that includes the animal walking toward a person and swiping its paws aggressively while vocalizing. 

“When you see that, a lion likely has a kill or kittens nearby and is simply trying to encourage you to leave the area,” Grigg said. 

If you see a mountain lion, CPW recommends that you do not approach the animal, remain calm, back away slowly, do all you can to appear larger, and if the lion becomes aggressive—fight back. 

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