A dog is recovering after a mountain lion dragged it from its backyard in central Colorado, wildlife officials said.
Luckily, the pup’s owners came to the rescue and managed to scare the attacking mountain lion away, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in an email.
Shawne Leach told Summit Daily she had just let her dog Furgus outside when she heard “an odd yelp.” She called out to her 14-month-old Australian shepherd and black-mouth cur mix, but he didn’t answer, the outlet reported.
So Leach and her husband Shannon tracked the cat’s big prints through 2 feet of snow in their backyard, across the frozen Snake River, and to the edge of Keystone Ranch golf course — and came face to face with the predator as it crouched over Furgus, Leach told the outlet.
“I (shouted) back to Shannon, ‘Furgus is still alive. We’ve got to save him,’” Leach told the outlet. “I’m yelling at Shannon, ‘Shoot it! Shoot it!’ That thing (had) its mouth open and (was) hissing at me.”
Shannon Leach fired into the ground, but the mountain lion didn’t move, the outlet reported. Next he fired at the predator, and it ran off into the darkness.
Furgus got up and walked over to them, the outlet reported. A photo shows the dog lost his eye in the ordeal but otherwise was in pretty good shape.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed the mountain lion wasn’t hit with any bullets.
Furgus is at home recovering from the ordeal, officials said.
“This is a good reminder that Summit County is mountain lion country,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Rachael Gonzales said.
“It is also a good reminder that it is illegal to kill a mountain lion for attacking and/or killing your pet, as they are considered personal property,” Gonzales said. “The pet owner was in fear of his life and fired shots at the lion to scare it away.”
At the end of 2022, mountain lions killed more than a dozen dogs in a single Colorado town, McClatchy News previously reported.
Then in January 2023, mountain lions killed one dog and maimed another two in another town about 25 miles northwest, McClatchy News reported. All three attacks took place just outside residents’ homes, with at least two of them happening on the homeowners’ porches — one when the predator lunged at the dog and grabbed it off the steps.
Officials reminded homeowners in mountain lion country of important tips to help keep their pets safe, including avoiding letting them outside unsupervised, especially at night.
If you do see a mountain lion, officials recommend hazing it away from your property by making loud noises. You can use your car’s alarm, bang pots and pans together, blow a whistle or an air horn, etc.
“Do not allow mountain lions to feel comfortable in your yard,” officials said. “The goal is to make the lion feel as uncomfortable as you possibly can.”
When you let pets outside, it’s best to go outside with them so you can keep your eye on them, especially in the colder winter months when food is harder for predators to come by, officials said. Pet owners should also keep their dogs on a leash when walking outside, since roaming pets make for easy prey and can attract mountain lions.
Don’t feed pets outside, since it can attract raccoons and other animals that are prey for mountain lions. In fact, don’t feed any wildlife in general.
“Not only is it illegal, feeding one species will bring in the entire food chain,” officials said. That includes bird feeders, since birdseed attracts smaller game and deer to your yard — and invites more mountain lions.
It’s a good idea to make noise and turn on lights around your property, especially between dusk and dawn when mountain lions are most active.
Wildlife officials also ask that residents report mountain lion sightings or conflicts as soon as possible so officials can monitor the predators and their behavior.
What to do if you see a mountain lion
Mountain lions are typically “calm, quiet and elusive,” according to the National Park Service. While attacks involving mountain lions are rare, they are possible.
“Even so, the potential for being killed or injured by a mountain lion is quite low compared to many other natural hazards,” the National Park Service said on its website. “There is a far greater risk, for example, of being killed in an automobile accident with a deer than of being attacked by a mountain lion.”
Officials said there are some things you do take to prevent a mountain lion encounter from becoming an attack.
Stay calm and back away slowly.
Face the lion and stand up straight.
Don’t approach a mountain lion, especially if it’s with kittens.
Don’t run. It could stimulate a mountain lion’s chase instincts.
Pick up small children so they don’t panic or run away.
Don’t bend over or crouch down.
Throw things at the mountain lion if it continues to move toward you.
If the mountain lion attacks, fight back using anything around you.
Report all sightings, encounters or attacks to local park rangers or law enforcement.
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