Mountain Lions No Longer Fear Humans
Local media has reported ‘new’ findings about the behavior of mountain lions (cougars, pumas) in the front range area. The impression you might be left with is that this is something new. It’s not.
Many of the changes seen in the mountain lion behavior has been documented as far back as the 1980’s especially in Boulder County. In a book titled “The Beast in the Garden: The True Story of a Predator’s Deadly Return to Suburban America” the topic is outlined thoroughly, and it’s a compelling story.
There are indeed mountain lions in the foothills and even in the City of Boulder, and don’t kid yourself, they’re not afraid of you.
A recent article talks about mountain lions and people peacefully coexisting. There's exactly where we find the problem. These big cats are predators. The recent meeting in Nederland this month smacks of history repeating itself. Folks gathering at the Wild Bear Nature Center should do some research to perhaps understand that we’ve moved into their territory.
It’s not for lack of food in their natural habitat that encourages these cats to attack pets, farm animals and even people. It’s more likely that it’s easy prey. The recent studies are simply a repeat of data and conclusions from decades ago.
Essentially, as people developed this ‘peacefully coexist’ mentality, they ushered in and welcomed a change in lion behavior that began as early as the 1960’s, especially in Boulder and neighboring communities. This recent reporting isn’t new news.
Over the last few decades as mountain lions learned that they were no longer getting killed by people when encroaching on ‘human’ territory, people were essentially no longer a threat. Add to that the propensity for people moving into mountain lion’s natural habitat to bring domestic animals, chickens, and small children and what amounts to easier access to food, it’s a natural progression for the lions to adjust their behavior.
The foothills and mountains are wonderful areas to live, and let’s pull our heads out of the sand and understand the mountain lions were here first. We’re the ones who need to be attentive and aware of how to coexist, and it won’t be ‘peaceful’ when you have an encounter with a big cat.
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