The cougar in Evergreen

Mountain-Lion
Living in the mountains comes with more than just beautiful views. The Cougar (Puma concolor), also commonly known as the mountain lion, puma, or catamount lived  here long before we have moved here.

The cougar is a beautiful animal, excellent predator and master in stalk and ambush technique. This cat loves rocky areas and dense underbush for stalking. Did I mention cougars are awesome jumpers? Their powerful legs allow them to leap 30 feet from a standstill. Horizontal jumping? Pretty impressive too.  Capability from standing position is anywhere from 20 to 40 ft.

Cougars are largest cats in North America with weight reaching 180 pound.

They generally try to avoid people but as we are moving it their territory, sightings are more common. Thanks to social media, reported sightings are being seen by many people. I would still consider encounters with the cougar as very rare for many people. Did you see the cougar in Evergreen area?

Cougars are mostly feeding on deer, elks and other mammals. Bigger cougars usually kill larger pray like deer or elk every 9 to 12 days. Younger cougars prey on smaller mammals such as raccoons, coyotes and rabbits. Unfortunately it can include some of our pets. Dogs can be easy prey. They usually hunt from dusk to dawn but they can travel and hunt during the daytime too.

The cougar can run as fast as 35 to 45 mi/h, but is best adapted for short, powerful sprints rather than long chases.

Cougar’s tracks

Don’t panic when you see tracks in your backyard that are no familiar to you. It’s no necessary cougar trying to get you. How do I identify cougar’s tracks?

1. Cats will not walk with its claws retracted. If you see claws marks it is most likely canine.

2. Shape and size is also important.

See image below as reference.

animal_track

Here is excellent article comparing dog’s and cougar’s tracks if you want to go into details.

So what do you do when you encounter cougar?

What you should and should not do:

  • Stop and stand tall. Try to look as big as possible. Don’t run. Cougar’s first instinct would be to chase you. Don’t take your eyes of the cougar. Be in charge!
  • If cougar displays aggressive behavior, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. Try to convince the cougar that you are not the pray and that you are dangerous.
  • Before attack cougar may have ears held back, growl or twitch its tail. If you have cats you know these behaviors pretty well.
  • Do not approach the cougar. Especially if they are with the kill or with kittens. Cougars will cover their kill with leaves and other material and they will stay nearby until they finish their meal or until it goes bad. You don’t want to be around. Call your local Parks and Wildlife office.
  • Should you get attacked by cougar your best bet is to fight aggressively and stay on your feet. It’s not bad idea to carry bear spray as it may deter the cougar. Make sure you know how to use it. Try to use it before you really need it. No time to read instructions.

A cougar can stalk its prey over an hour. Chances are you’ve been watched by a cougar without even knowing it.

I think cougars are amazing animals and I hope they will be around in Evergreen area for long time to come. I would love to see one eventually. Wouldn’t you?

Here is additional information from Colorado DNR.

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