Mike Hurd, 46, of Colorado Springs was treated and released from a local hospital Monday night after a confrontation with a mountain lion. Hurd told the Colorado Division of Wildlife he went outside about 9 p.m. to investigate a commotion in his back yard and saw an animal attacking his small dog.
Hurd thought it was a German Shepherd attacking his Scottie Terrier and entered the fray to intervene on his dog's behalf. He jumped on the back of the larger animal and immediately realized that the animal attacking his dog was a mountain lion.
A brief scuffle ensued before Hurd released his grip on the lion and the cat ran off. Hurd received stitches for cuts behind his ear.
Colorado Division of Wildlife officers spent several hours tracking the lion, but called off the search early Tuesday morning.
The Division of Wildlife estimates there are between 2,000 and 3,000 mountain lions in the state.
"Mountain lions are common on the city's West Side," said Division of Wildlife officer Trina Lynch. "We strongly encourage people who live in mountain lion habitat to secure their pets in covered kennels to prevent lion attacks."
"This is a good time to reiterate the some common sense precautions," said Lynch. "It's not uncommon for a mountain lion to travel through areas where people live and work. It's possible that the lion has killed a deer or other prey; so if you see a carcass covered with dirt, branches and leaves, it's best call the Division of Wildlife as it is likely the lion will return to continue feeding."
Lions are active year around. Deer make up the main portion of a mountain lion's diet, but it is common for them to hunt small mammals. Wildlife officials stress that the best protection for pets is to make sure that kennels have coverings over the top to prevent lions from jumping in.
Mountain lions can travel many miles in a day, and typically have a territory of 100 square miles or more. Here are some precautions for people who live or recreate in areas where there are mountain lions.
-- Do not allow dogs and other pets to roam freely. If you keep dogs in an outdoor kennel, be sure it has a screen on top. Dogs have been trapped and attacked inside their own open-top kennels.
-- Keep yards and residences well lit at night.
-- Do not plant shrubs next to your home where mountain lions can hide.
-- Make plenty of noise when hiking, cycling or running.
-- When hiking in lion country, stay in groups. Do not let small children hike or play alone.
-- If you see a lion, do not approach it. Stay calm and stand upright. Talk loudly and firmly at the lion and move slowly away while facing the lion.
-- Do all you can to appear larger: raise your arms and hold your jacket or shirt open wide.
-- Do not run: Some experts believe that running can trigger a predator instinct in mountain lions; the lion will react to you the same way it reacts to a fleeing deer or elk.
-- Mountain lions tend to avoid people and rarely attack unless cornered. A cougar that is about to attack may have ears held back, snarl or growl, or twitch its tail.
-- If you are attacked, fight for your life. Use any weapon and advantage available such as rocks, sticks, a camera or binoculars. Direct your defense to vulnerable areas such as eyes, inner nose and ears, ribs and abdomen.