Wildlife Travel: Mountain Lions
Cougar, panther, puma – these are all common names for the mountain lion, the largest wild cat living in North America. Although they were once hunted to near extinction their numbers are currently increasing. They have even been seen in the eastern United States where they were once believed to be extinct.
These quiet and elusive animals prefer to live in remote areas with an abundance of deer, the mountain lions primary food source. Although encounters with mountain lions are relatively rare, they do happen. This is the result of an increasing number of people moving into the lions’ habitat where one male mountain lion may require a territory of up to 175 square miles.
Other reasons for the growing number of interactions with mountain lions include an increase in the deer populations, the growing number of lions which leads to an expansion of their territory, and greater use of the trails in their habitat.
If You Encounter a Mountain Lion
Mountain lions are solitary creatures and it is rare to see a lion for more than a brief moment however, if you do encounter one the Colorado Department of Natural Resources recommends the following:
* Whether walking, biking, hiking or running in mountain lion territory, be sure to travel in a group.
* Make a lot of noise so as not to surprise a lion.
* Cary a sturdy walking stick – it can be used to ward off a lion.
* Keep children and pets close and within sight of you at all times.
* Stay calm. Talk firmly to the lion.
* Stop or back away slowly. A lion may instinctively chase someone running from it.
* Pick up your children to protect them from running in a panic.
* Do all you can to appear larger. Open your jacket, wave your arms slowly doing whatever necessary to show that you are not prey and may even be a danger to the lion.
* Fight back. Use rocks, sticks or whatever is available to fight off the lion.
* Remain standing. If you fall down, get up quickly!
If, after having said all that you are still interested in a live encounter with a mountain lion, there are several wildlife travel agencies which will help you to do just that.
Mountain Lion Tours
The Environmental Adventure Company , was founded 10 years ago by Michael Sanders and is a great fit for all adventure seekers, especially those interested in limiting their impact on wildlife and their habitats.
Their Big Horn Sheep of Whiskey Mountain 5 Day/4 Night tour costs $1,295. This wildlife tour explores Dubois, Wyoming home to Big Horn sheep, mountain lions and other wildlife.
Tanque Verde Guest Ranch offers a luxurious experience on their 640 acre historic ranch founded in 1868. The ranch is located in the desert foothills of the Rincon Mountains, home of mountain lions, and offers miles of scenic hiking trails.
Remember to follow all safety recommendations whenever entering the home of wild animals.