Colorado Outdoors Podcast: Episode 9 – Mountain Lions of Colorado

Mat Alldredge discusses the challenge of balancing decreasing habitats with Colorado's exploding human populations.

Mountain lions are a fascinating yet elusive animal, but when they do pop on the radar they make for big headlines. Thanks to sound management practices implemented over the years, mountain lions are doing quite well in Colorado and the west. The challenge going forward will be balancing decreasing habitats and our exploding human populations since we share the same spaces. In this episode, we discuss that and more with Mat Alldredge, a wildlife researcher for CPW who is a leading expert on mountain lions.

Topic list

mountain lion jumps from tree
Mountain Lion
  • 2:00 – Mat Alldredge’s history researching mountain lions
  • 3:05 – biological lesson on mountain lions
  • 4:45 – their elusive nature
  • 6:05 – why did the agency produce an educational video series on lions
  • 7:55 – helping the species recover from dwindling populations in the early 1900s
  • 10:50 – mountain lions in urban environments
  • 13:20 – what to do if you encounter a mountain lion
  • 16:30 – Mat Alldredge’s encounters with mountain lions
  • 18:00 – view of mountain lions
  • 18:30 – groups of mountain lions
  • 20:20 – what is the outlook of mountain lions in Colorado
  • 22:45 – importance of hunting

If You Encounter a Mountain Lion

People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild. Lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years. Most of the attacks were by young lions, perhaps forced out to hunt on their own and not yet living in established areas. Young lions may key in on easy prey, like pets and small children.

No studies have been done to determine what to do if you meet a lion. However, based on observations by people who have come upon lions, some patterns of behavior and response are beginning to emerge. With this in mind, the following suggestions may be helpful.

Remember: Every situation is different with respect to the lion, the terrain, the people, and their activity.

  • Go in groups when you walk or hike in mountain lion country, 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 and 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, Download the Living With Lions brochure and share it with your family, friends, and others in your neighborhood. 

Podcast hosted by Mark Johnson. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is a nationally recognized leader in conservation, outdoor recreation and wildlife management. The agency manages 42​ state parks, all of Colorado’s 960-plus wildlife species, more than 350 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs from hunting and fishing to the state’s trails program, boat registrations, snowmobiles, off-highway vehicles and more. All of its management is in perpetuity for the enjoyment of Coloradans and its visitors and this podcast is dedicated to telling the stories and happenings in Colorado’s great outdoors.

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