DENVER (KDVR) — Mountain lion sightings are rare, but a Jeep tour company based in Vail recently got that experience.
People rarely catch more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild as they tend to live in remote areas, like mountain subdivisions where deer and elk are abundant, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Not only did Vail 4×4 Tours watch as the mountain lion swam across the Eagle River, but they caught it on video and shared the sighting with FOX31 so viewers could see it too.
Ben Hilley, the owner of Vail 4×4 Tours, told FOX31 they see all kinds of wildlife on tours as they often go through the most remote trails in the Vail Valley. He said they see elk, mule deer, black bears, bighorn sheep and more in the wild, but rarely do they see a mountain lion.
“Over the past 15 years and thousands of hours on trail, I’ve seen two. I even tell our guests, they are there but we won’t see them. This sighting was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Hilley said.
In the video, a mountain lion swims through the river of fast-flowing water before climbing up a hill at the bank of the river and walking toward some vehicles parked there.
Vail 4×4 Tours said in an Instagram post that mountain lions are known to be able to swim over a mile searching for food or new territory.
What to do if you encounter a mountain lion
CPW said no studies have been done to determine what people should do if they encounter a mountain lion.
Based on observations from people who have come across a mountain lion, CPW offers these tips should you find yourself in a lion’s presence.
- Stay calm, speak calmly and firmly
- Stop or back away slowly, do not run
- Stay facing toward the lion, do not turn away
- Appear large, stand upright, raise your arms and open your jacket if wearing one
- If the lion is aggressive, throw rocks, branches or whatever you can without crouching or turning your back
- If the lion attacks, fight back
The goal of these tips is to convince the lion that you are not prey and can be a danger to them.
When hiking in mountain lion country, CPW recommends going in groups and making plenty of noise to avoid surprising a lion.
If a mountain lion attacks, CPW says you should fight back as people have done so successfully with rocks, sticks, clothing, tools and even bare hands. Just try to stay standing, or get back up if you go down.