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Mountain Lions Don’t Hibernate

Last week I wrote about a bear incident at our home in the Colorado mountains, It was an event that seemed to have some interest among old friends who know me as an East Coast big city guy. Dueling with 500 lb. Bears in the night seems somewhat like a scene from Raiders of The Lost Ark to my old friends in Philly. Not said in my article was the fact that I always have an exit strategy when dealing with the bears on our property. They seldom attack other mammals and sleep about 6 months of the year. Using common sense we do not particularly worry about the bears other than the yearly loss of a bird feeder.

Our mountain lions are another story. We have some resident lions in the neighborhood.
One friend does not go out or the house after dusk without carrying her Lion stick, which is a stout 4 foot long dowel. Asked why she was carrying such a stick she replied “ that damn lion has been prowling around my house almost every other day. If he decides to attack, I want something handy to give him What for.”

I am not exactly sure “what for” is but I think something more than a 4’ broom stick will be needed to give him “what for’. No matter what “what for” exactly is all about.

I have lived in the mountains for 10 years and never have seen a lion. My wife has, every neighbor has and my youngest grandson who lives a few miles below us on the edge of the mountains has seen 4 lions or one lion 4 times.

I worry that the lion has picked me out for some reason. If a lion doesn’t want to be seen you won’t see him. Since I am the only local that hasn’t seen one I figure they are checking me out for special treatment. I am starting to think that I need to be carrying something more than a broomstick when I walk down to the road after dark to get the mail.

Our lion(s) have not eaten any local people recently, but dogs frequently disappear without a trace. Last year our friends and neighbors George and Mary were sitting in their sun room at the end of the day having an after dinner, quiet moment. Their beautiful dog was playing on the deck a few feet away from where they were seated.

Suddenly over the rail a large lion pounced on the 30 lb dog and leaped back over the rail carrying the dog in his jaws. George is a big guy and followed the lion over the rail and into the woods. He never found the lion or any trace of their dog.

A few years ago our friend and neighbor Tamara heard a commotion on her front landing. She opened the door to find her dog being attacked by a young lion. Tamara is not about to let a lion eat any of her living relatives or pets and went after the lion with a broom. I’ve seen Tamara shovel snow and sweep a sidewalk. . Her broom skills came in handy because she beat off the lion, rushed her dog to town for stitching up and he lived for several more years

The grandson who has seen all the lions lives in town surrounded by homes at least ½ mile away from open space. A lion was caught by the Wildlife folks across the street from his house, 100 yards from the street on which he regularly skateboards. A little scary close.

It is well known that the lions are slowly moving down out of the mountains for several reasons. The deer are moving down into residential areas where they are protected from hunting by people. They are not protected from hunting by lions. The lions have found out that dogs and cats are an easy snack now and then on their trip to town for dinner.

My mountain neighbors defending hearth and home with broomsticks also may be a reason for their drift to lower elevations. I think I’d better work on my broomstick skills.
Unlike George charging into the woods after his lion with bare hands I need to think of a better defense/attack technique, just in case I need one


  1. Tony would give his eye teeth to see a Mountain Lion. But I am sure they have seen him!

  2. Hi there – I was browsing the web and looking for info on mountain lions and where they hang out during the winter in the Rockies. Reason is that I frequent a ski house in Silverthorne, CO during the ski season and in the afternoons, I take my dogs (2 goldens) on big hikes in the immediate surrounding (back-country) area. I meet other walkers on that hike and it’s not like I’m in a quiet and deserted mountain area. After having heard stories in the news about dogs being killed by mountain lions, I’ve become a little uncomfortable about going there again and having my dogs off leash and run freely. I’ve asked other hikers that walk their dogs there all the time and they say they’ve never seen a lion whatsoever. I don’t just want to take their word for it cause I do love my dogs an awful lot and would be devastated if anything were to happen to them due to my own stupidity or carelessness.
    Any thoughts?

  3. Vicky,
    Having 2 is better than one since a lion probably would not consider attacking two big dogs. Walking them in the afternoon is a plus since most lion activity I have heard about in my neighborhood is in the early evening or early AM.

    I am not familiar with the lion activity in Silverthorn but in my area the lions seem to be moving lower. There was one treed by two dogs two days ago in the Boulder campus University Of Colorado. My wife’s hiking group hikes high(above 8500′) one reason is they only have seen lions when hiking low

    Good luck and I’m sure you won’t be stupid or careless

  4. I just finished a rock climb on the Flatirons in Boulder. We finished in the dark. And we were FAR MORE scared of hiking in the dark than anything the climb offered. (Because of mountain lion danger).

    So I thought I would educate myself further. (Fairly educated about wildlife- but you can always learn more!)

    Would having dog/dogs along, attract or turn off a mountain lion?

    How much danger were we really in? (2 athletic late 20’s women, singing loudly and making noise – not to mention holding hands out of fear) All the way back to the parking lot.

  5. The mountain lions in your area, which you are unlikely to encounter, probably won’t be deterred by a dog. Several dogs maybe but not a single canine. Lions at one time avoided canines. That seems to be changing. They now regularly take dogs in my neighborhood.
    Being athletic might help if you get in a fight with a lion but You certainly won’t out run one
    Making noise is good but holding hands is a defense with which I am unfamiliar.
    Bottom Line.
    Caution is advisable but being attacked is very unlikely where you were hiking. The greatest real danger you faced was probably tripping on a rock in the dark and breaking a bone(I’ve done that)

  6. I live in Castle Rock and often run the trails in the morning (around 6:30 a.m.). Lately, I’ve started to think more and more about mountain lions in the area as I am new to Colorado, having moved out from CA. No one in my area has ever seen a mountain lion so I think I’m being too paranoid. Any thoughts?

  7. Probably a little paranoid, but run with a stick in the morning.
    .My wife and every one of her very experienced hikers take a hiking pole with them on hikes in the mountains. They have all seen lions at one time or another without any adverse results but they all comment that the lion is awesome up close with no bars between them and the lion.

  8. You can always do what they do in India – where a mask with eyes on the back of your head. Big cats like to sneak attack and might be less willing if they think you’re watching em….

  9. Well… I found this post when I googling for a solution that my OSX Mountain Lion Macbook Pro doesn’t go to hibernate mode…


  1. […] following is a guest post by Buck Fleming. Buck has started a blog called Bucksays, where he covers mountain lions, life in the Rocky Mountains, and political […]

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