Mountain lions in our midst
Our house in West Glenwood Springs is on the last street at the edge of the woods where wildlife live, otherwise known as the wildland-urban interface.
As a consequence, we have wild animals come through our yard year-round, ranging from squirrels and skunks to elk and bear.
Soon after moving here, we tried to have a vegetable garden. But when we tithed 80 percent to the deer and only harvested 20 percent, we decided the effort wasn’t worth it.
Our family has the attitude that these animals visiting us have a right to do so; after all, they lived here long before the houses were built that encroach on their habitat.
We try hard to leave them alone and hope they do the same to us.
Knowing that mountain lions frequent the area doesn’t bother us that much. Besides, we don’t provide any sacrificial cats to them.
I say this in jest, but some of our neighbors along Oasis Creek don’t think this is at all funny, having their domestic cats fall prey to the larger wild ones.
This column went to print before I was able to confirm rumors that a rather large wildcat appeared just outside the sliding glass door on the deck of a nearby home.
My purpose is not to put fear into the hearts and minds of any fickle local residents or squeamish visitors to our area.
Again, try to remember they were here first.
In an attempt to assuage any fears you may have, let me say that in my current research on this topic, I have found that from 1890 until today only three reported and confirmed human fatalities have occurred due to mountain lion attacks in Colorado.
Figure the odds, and I’d say your chances of dying at the hands of some careless driver talking on their cell phone are much higher.
My own experiences with mountain lions during my short tenure on this earth are very limited.
The first encounter with these animals occurred early in life when I was about eight or nine years old, on the back porch of my grandfather’s place in Oklahoma.
The noise I heard in the dark could be best described as akin to a human scream, and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand out like nothing else ever has.
The word my grandpa used was “panther.”
Since that time, I have seen only one cougar in the wild crossing a highway near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Rather than offer any all-too-brief tips on what to do about living with mountain lions, you would do much better going to the Colorado DOW’s Web site at http://wildlife.state.co.us.
First click on “Wildlife Species,” then the “Co-existing with Wildlife,” topic and under Mammals click “Living with Wildlife in Lion Country” and at the bottom of the page, “When Mountain Lions Meet People.”
That was fairly easy, wasn’t it?
Being prepared is up to you. But let’s hope an encounter with mountain lions never happens.
With 25 years of experience working for federal land management agencies in lion country, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week.
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Sticks in the mud. Overly cautious. Obstacles to progress.