Colorado Mountain Lion Sightings Put Communities On High Alert

A mountain lion perches in a tree before getting a tracking collar from the Santa Cruz Puma Project. Foothills communities in Colorado are on high alert after several mountain lion sightings.

Colorado wildlife officials tell people near the Rocky Mountain foothills to keep an eye on their children and pets after a series of mountain lion sightings.

Donna Kendrick says she and a neighbor both saw a mountain lion recently in their back yards in west Loveland.

Kendrick told the Loveland Reporter-Herald on Friday the big cat saw her and "vanished like a ninja." Kendrick called the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department, where spokesman Jason Clay says wildlife managers are aware of the sighting.

Clay says Loveland-area residents reported mountain lions twice previously this year.

People have reported mountain lions six times this year in nearby Masonville.

Recent research from CSU and Colorado Parks & Wildlife studied the behavior of mountain lions over a 10-year period. While suburban sprawl does encroach on open spaces where big cats and other wildlife live, one expert said that neither proximity nor hunger are the driving causes.  David Baron, an author and journalist who has studied how wild animals and expanding suburbs intersect, said it's convenience.

Because mountain lions are lone predators, their survival depends on the path of least resistance when it comes to hunting. A house cat or pet dog is much easier prey than a wild deer or fox.

As for why big cats are traveling to dense suburban areas in search of food, it's simply because that's where their natural prey is gravitating to as well.

Baron’s advice? Treat all of Colorado like mountain lion country, and educate yourself on how to live safely around them. Traveling in groups, keeping pets indoors and removing items such as bird feeders and fountains that attract all kind of wildlife can minimize encounters and keep everyone safe.