Man Repels Attacking Mountain Lion with a Shovel

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Wielding a shovel, a Big Horn, Wyo. man fended off an attacking mountain lion on his property bordering Little Goose Creek Sept. 15 around 4 p.m.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was working in a brushy area of horse pasture behind his home. As the man looked over his shoulder he noticed a mountain lion about 10 feet away.

The man stood up, yelled at the lion and banged his shovel to make extra noise. However, the lion did not move away so the man tried to keep trees between him and the lion while he moved out of the brushy area.

The lion then charged and the man hit it with his shovel and shouted for help. The man’s neighbor, Jim Nealey, heard the shouts and came to give assistance. Sergeant Rick Tillery of the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office was notified and responded along with Sheridan Wildlife Management Coordinator Lynn Jahnke and Sheridan Wildlife Biologist Tim Thomas of the Game and Fish Department.

Nealey, a houndsman, ran to his house and returned to the scene with his hounds to help locate the lion. Jahnke and Thomas authorized Nealey to use his dog to locate the lion. As they investigated the scene Nealey’s hound "Katie" jumped toward a brush pile about 10 feet from the men. The lion leaped out of the brush, was treed and quickly shot by Thomas.

The 2-to 3-year old, 94-pound male lion appeared to be in good physical condition. Because of the circumstances of this incident, samples from this lion will be sent to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory for further examination.

The G&F commends the man for his quick and correct reaction to the attack. Human/mountain lion interactions although infrequent in Wyoming can be a serious situation.

If a mountain lion is sighted in a developed area, the G&F recommends the following actions and reporting it immediately to the G&F or law enforcement authorities:

* If you see a mountain lion, do not approach it.

* Stay calm and do not run. Mountain lions, like all cats, instinctively chase animals that run. If you have small children, pick them up so they don’t run, and back away slowly.

* Make yourself look bigger by opening your jacket or raising your arms. Throw rocks or sticks if you can without turning your back. You want to convince the lion you are not prey and may even be a danger to the animal.

* If the lion attacks, fight back with rocks, sticks and kick or punch.

Mountain lions are large predators that primarily prey on deer. This is an important reason not to attract deer into towns by feeding them.

"As in the past, if a mountain lion is sighted in a municipal area, our number one concern in dealing with the situation is human safety," says Warren Mischke, the G&F’s Sheridan Region information specialist. "The chance of a human/mountain lion interaction is always remote and decreases if we follow these simple rules."

In the mountain lion hunting area on the east slope of the Bighorn Mountains, 15 mountain lions - the mortality quota -- were harvested by hunters in the season from Sept. 1, 2003 to March 31, 2004.