GOLDEN, Colo (KDVR)– Raccoon carcasses are popping up across yards in Golden, and wildlife officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife say mountain lions are responsible.

CPW said mountain lion activity is expected in Golden, as officers monitor the area.

“Mostly mountain lions prey on deer, that’s their primary food source,” said Joey Livingston with CPW. “They will eat other food sources as well. They’re opportunistic eaters.”

Mountain lions are known to live in remote parts of Colorado where there is an abundance of deer, but they can bleed into the urban-wildland interface in foothill communities like Golden.

So far in 2022, CPW has recorded 19 mountain lion sightings in Jefferson County, trailing Larimer County with 23 sightings and Boulder County with 45 sightings. Livingston said not all sightings have been substantiated, and some of the reports may be for bobcats mistaken for mountain lions, or the same lion multiple times. The CPW sighting reports also encompass people seeing deer carcasses or mountain lion tracks.

CPW said there are more interactions between humans and mountain lions because more people are moving into their habitats, an increase in the deer population, more use of trails that traverse natural habitats and a presumed increase in the mountain lion population.

So what should you do if you encounter a mountain lion? Parks and wildlife officers advise people to go in groups when walking or hiking in mountain lion country. Hikers are advised to keep their distance from mountain lions if seen in the wild, stay calm, slowly back away and make themselves appear as large as possible.