What To Do If You See A Mountain Lion

With all the recent sightings of mountain lions in the Colorado Springs area this winter, KKTV has an article posted about the issue that includes some good tips on what to do if you see a mountain lion:

Mountain Lion Safety Tips:
• If you see a lion, do not approach it. Stay calm and stand upright. Talk loudly and firmly at the lion and back away slowly. Do not turn your back.
• Do not run: Some experts believe that running can trigger a predator instinct in mountain lions; the lion will react to you the same way it reacts to a fleeing deer or elk.
• Do all you can to appear larger: raise your arms and hold your jacket or shirt open wide.
• Mountain lions tend to avoid people and rarely attack unless cornered. A cougar that is about to attack may have ears held back, snarl or growl, or twitch its tail.
• If the lion appears aggressive, throw stones, branches, your backpack or anything that is handy.
• If attacked, fight for your life. Use any weapon and advantage available such as rocks, binoculars or flashlight. Direct your defense to vulnerable areas such as eyes, inner nose and ears, ribs and abdomen.
• Stay in groups when hiking, cycling or running in lion country. Do not let small children hike or play alone.
• Make enough noise when hiking, cycling or running that you do not get too close without them hearing you coming. Lions that hear you coming will leave an area before you get there.
• If you find a dead animal on or near your property, have it removed promptly. Mountain lions often cover dead animals with leaves or dirt and return later to feed.
• Keep yards and residences well-lit at night.
• Remove plant shrubs next to your home where mountain lions can hide.
• Keep dogs and other pets inside. If you keep dogs in a kennel, be sure it is enclosed with a screen on top. Dogs have been trapped and attacked inside their own open-top kennels.
• Take proactive measures to secure fencing for chickens, goats and other farm animals.  [KKTV.com]

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Hunting Mountain Lions In Colorado

Out There Colorado has an interesting article posted about mountains lions in Colorado and how to hunt them:

They’re out there, stalking the wilds of Colorado like shadows.

Mountain lions, also known as cougars or pumas, are Colorado’s largest and most elusive predator. Nobody knows how many there are. Should you happen upon one while hiking, it might see you but you probably won’t see it.

“Just to go out and wait for a mountain lion to walk by, you can spend your whole life and never see one,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Michael Seraphin. They’re expert climbers and have learned, with good cause, to fear humans.

Despite the challenge — or maybe because of it — hunting the big cats is becoming increasingly popular in the state. According to the wildlife agency, mountain lion harvests increased from 81 in 1980 to 393 in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

More information on hunting mountain lions, from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The popularity, and the fact hunters rarely come near the statewide harvest limit, led wildlife officials in January to extend the season a month, until the end of April. But that might result in just five to 15 fewer cats in the wild.

Because, as hunters will tell you, simply finding a trace of a lion is a matter of luck, since the nocturnal creatures are rarely out in daylight. Tracking it and getting close enough for the kill can take days in a frigid mountain landscape locked in deep snow.  [Out There Colorado]

You can read the rest of the article at the link.  The article is likely in response to all the local sightings of mountains lions this winter.  I have never seen a mountain lion while hiking in Colorado, but interestingly enough I did see a mountain lion three years ago while jogging in El Paso, Texas.

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Mountain Lion Causes Closure of Trails at Cheyenne Mountain State Park

The local Colorado Springs media has been reporting on this story about a supposed mountain lion attack at Cheyenne Mountain State Park:

Picture I took of mountain lions at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Two encounters with a mountain lion have forced officials to close trails at Cheyenne Mountain Park.

Division of Parks and Wildlife spokesman Michael Seraphin said a man jogging in the park encountered the animal that had a deer carcass about 30 feet away from a trail on Friday.

A female jogger encountered the same mountain lion and ran. She was slightly injured when the mountain lion chased her before returning to the carcass. [Gazette]

You can read the rest at the link but a park ranger shot the mountain lion in response. However the mountain lion ran away after being shot so the park has closed trails on the south side of the park as they search for the mountain lion. Some of the commenters on the Gazette’s website are angry that the lion was shot. I think the park rangers are in a situation where they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. If they did not shoot the lion and it came back later and attacked another jogger the park would be highly criticized. So I do not fault the park rangers on this.

Picture of Cheyenne Mountain from the state park.

However, I do think that it is important for park users to understand some basics before entering the park such as to not run from a mountain lion. Mountain lions tend to instinctively chase something that is running from it. The best thing to do is to make yourself appear to be as big as possible and slowly back away as you maintain eye contact with the lion. This situation is similar when park rangers have to shoot bears when they attack campers that leave food in their tents at night. It is not the bear’s fault but park rangers have to protect other campers from similar incidents. By the way I had my own encounter with a mountain lion three years ago.

Further Reading: On Walkabout at: Cheyenne Mountain State Park

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Picture of the Day: Deer Stare

This is a picture of a deer I spotted recently over at the US Air Force Academy who would not move and just continued to stare me down until I got into my truck and drove away.

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On Walkabout At: The Healesville Animal Sanctuary

Australia is filled with many great zoos and wildlife parks, but my favorite location to view Australian wildlife and one of the best zoos I have been to overall is the Healesville Animal Sanctuary located outside of Melbourne, Victoria:

View Larger Map

There is a major highway from Melbourne that allows residents of the city to easily visit Healesville, but since I lived out in a small rural community this is the road I drove to reach Healesville that provides a pretty good indication of the beautiful bush setting that the city is located in:

Picture from the Healesville Animal Sanctuary

These large trees that cover the mountains around Healesville are called mountain ash and can grow to heights of over 100 meters, which makes these trees the world’s 2nd tallest behind California’s redwood trees:

read more

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Mountain Lion Shot & Killed In Downtown El Paso

People are very surprised by this news of a mountain lion on the loose in downtown El paso but I blogged over a year ago about how I spotted a mountain lion out in far northeast El Paso, so I am not surprised by this news at all:

A mountain lion roaming Downtown El Paso was shot and killed this morning as it tried to flee the H&H carwash where it had been trapped.

The lion was first spotted at about 8:45 a.m., today in the railroad yard at the intersection of Campbell and Franklin. The lion then jumped into the trash bin area across the street at the state office building. Railroad police officers as well as state employees closed the doors to the state parking lot in hopes of trapping it in there.

The cat escaped, however, leaping from the second story of the garage and running several blocks to the Church of St. Clement on North Campbell Street, where it made its way through the property and darted through the breezeway of the parish school, while several children and teachers were conducting recess on the playground.

“I stepped out and the mountain lion ran right past me,” said St. Clement Parish School Headmaster Nick Cobos. “That mountain lion was scared. It just ran past the campus and did not stop.”

Cobos immediately initiated a lockdown of the school. Teachers and students hurried from the playground, rushing to get indoors and to their classrooms.

The mountain lion leapt over the school’s fence and ran into the H&H carwash, where employees and authorities rushed to pull down the business’ chains and contain the cat.  [El Paso Times]

You can read the rest at the El Paso Times link complete with video, but it is unfortunate that the mountain lion had to be killed, but I can understand the police concern for public safety if it was about to escape the car wash.

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The List of the Best Australian Nature Photography

Australian Geographic has a list of the best Australian nature photography. Here was my favorite picture:

You can see the rest of the list at this link.

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Australian Man Almost Eaten By Crocodile Without Knowing It

Here is another good Northern Territory crocodile story for everyone:

NORTHERN Territory chef Kyle MacLennan almost became the meal during a recent swim.

And no one knew how narrowly he escaped until some days later.

Mr MacLennan, 26, was swimming from the beach to a boat in the small marina at Mandorah, west of Darwin, when his mum Lui MacLennan took a photo of her boy.

She did not check the photos over until she returned to Sydney a few days later.

“No one even knew (the crocodile) was there,” Mr MacLennan said.

“I was at Mandorah with my mum and her friend. I was completely unaware (of the crocodile) until I saw the pic.”

For the life of me I just cannot figure out why people would swim in waters, especially muddy rivers that are known for crocodiles.

You can view pictures I took of Northern Territory crocodiles here and here.

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Australian Dingo May Be World’s Oldest Dog

Just about everything in Australia seems to be impossibly old and now you can add the continents native dogs to that list as well:

Australia’s iconic dingo may be the world’s oldest breed of dog, according a major new DNA study that is likely to boost conservation efforts.

The international study has found the dingo and its close relation, the rare New Guinea singing dog, bear the closest genetic similarity to wolves of all breeds tested.

The research, published in science journal Nature, appears to confirm widely held theories about the dingo’s history. It involved testing nearly 1,000 dogs of 85 different breeds as well as hundreds of wolves.

“This gives us a huge weight of evidence supporting the theory that the dingo is quite distinct from all modern dog breeds,” said joint author Alan Wilton, of Sydney’s University of New South Wales.

“It’s a bit of information that could be important to the conservation issue. If it’s distinct from domestic dogs there may be scientific reasons for conserving the dingo.”

Dingoes and the singing dog, named for its distinctive multi-pitched howl, have developed in isolation from other breeds for thousands of years. Dingoes were introduced to Australia from Indonesia about 5,000 years ago.  [AFP]

The dingoes actually are nice looking dogs, however Australians rarely see them because of the construction of the  “dingo fence“, which is 3,488 miles long and protects the most populated areas of Australia where the majority of the sheep farming takes place from the dingoes. The length of this fence makes it the world’s longest fence.

This fence limits the dingoes to mostly living out in the remote outback though they can be found along the tropical east coast in isolated areas such as Fraser Island.  I actually took a picture of a dingo visiting our camp site in the Northern Territory which is where many of these dingoes live.  They are beautiful looking dogs that hopefully continue to be a part of the diverse wildlife on the Australian continent.

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Extinct Frog Species Rediscovered In New South Wales

It is pretty amazing but not surprising that this frog once thought extinct is actually still alive in Australia:

An Australian frog which disappeared nearly 40 years ago and was feared extinct has been rediscovered in a remote creek, astounding experts.

A state government scientist spotted an unusual species during a trip to New South Wales’ Southern Tablelands, and later returned with a frog specialist to confirm the Yellow-Spotted Bell Frog’s first sighting since 1973.

“This was definitely the most exciting moment of my career and I will be surprised if I repeat it,” doctor David Hunter, who was led to a thriving community of the frogs by conservation officer Luke Pearce, said Thursday.

State environment minister Frank Sartor said the re-emergence of the green and gold amphibian showed the importance of protecting natural habitats.

“I’m advised that finding this frog is as significant a discovery as a Tasmanian tiger,” he said, referring to an animal which is believed to have died out last century.  [AFP]

Australia has so much remote wilderness such a find of a small frog like this is not surprising me.  However, I doubt a larger animal like the Tasmanian Tiger will ever be found again.  This discovery of this frog reminds of the discovery of another long extinct species, the Wollemi Pine which was also found in the remote New South Wales wilderness.

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