The mountain lion had silently crept up behind him.
Bayfield, Colorado, resident Steve Shively was out hunting in the San Juan National Forest last week when he found himself face-to-face with a mountain lion. Shively was scouting for elk and had stopped to swap out memory cards in some trail cameras he had set up. He did so without much thought, and as he got up to continue on his way, he noticed a mountain lion crouched behind a rock, its eyes fixed right on him.
It had silently made its way to about 20 yards behind him. Shively stayed fairly still and filmed as the big cat surveyed the area and walked around him, stopping every so often to look right at him. Shively calmly repeated, “Be good, kitty”, and “I see you”.
Eventually, the mountain lion walked off, and Shively was able to breathe a big sigh of relief. He shared the video on Facebook and with several local and national media outlets. He says he was nervous, especially after the recent encounter a jogger in Utah had with a mountain lion following him.
According to Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southwest Region, the mountain lion was likely not stalking Shivel; if it had been, there's little possibly he would have seen or heard the mountain lion before being confronted. Lewandowski told the Durango Herald that incidents like this are rare and that the behavior of the mountain lion was normal. Humans do not look like prey to mountain lions—we stand upright and often wear bright colors—and attacks on humans are rare and most often involve an animal that is unhealthy.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) estimates as many as 7,000 mountain lions—also referred to as pumas and cougars—live in Colorado, as most of the state is a prime habitat for them. They have lived in Colorado for generations and are a vital part of the state’s ecosystem. The big cats feed on the deer and elk.
Learn more about coexisting safely with mountain lions from CPW, and how keeping wildlife wild is the safest way to ensure everyone’s safety.
Have you ever experienced a mountain lion encounter as close as this one? Where in the state have you seen the big cats in the wild? Share with us in the comments, and remember to stay safe and aware of wildlife when out exploring the many amazing places in Colorado.