Although these big cats no longer call CT home, a mountain lion does pass by from time to time. And when one does, people go bananas. Then again, they do look intimidating and no one wants to meet one face to face. So that probably plays a big role in why people freak out a little.
Darienite reports that local police received a “credible report” of a sighting. Apparently the mountain lion moseyed between the Darien/New Canaan border. About three months ago, police investigated another sighting in the same area.
This report came in around 7:30 a.m. and the man who reportedly saw the cougar gave a very accurate description. While some sightings end with nothing to show, such as a person mistaking a bob cat for somethign else, police believe this guy actually saw a cougar.
Officer Allyson Halm, head of the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section, says the sightings happened just a few houses apart.
Because the sightings are so close together, Halm urges all residents near 250 Marvin Ridge Road in Darien to check their cameras. However, those who live within the Five Mile River watershed should also review their footage just in case.
Police hope that at least one camera managed to snag a picture or two. Since there’s no snow, police need visual confirmation to make a ruling.
However, they feel pretty positive it’s the real deal this time. So, with that said, police have a message for wildlife photographers hoping to score the snap of the century. DON’T.
Although mountain lions prefer keeping their distance, they are wild animals. Therefore, the chance remains that they might attack. This goes especially if they are in the middle of feeding or around their young.
Point Reyes National Seashore explains:
“Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet and elusive. They are most commonly found in areas with plentiful prey and adequate cover. Although lion attacks are rare, they are possible, as is injury from any wild animal.”
However, chances of a cougar attacking you are a lot smaller than a deer striking your car on the Merritt. But, both scenarios suck. Any sane human would prefer to avoid both if possible.
But, if you do find yourself staring face to face with a mountain lion, here’s what you need to do.
First and foremost, stand tall and either hold your ground or start SLOWLY backing away. Also, remain calm and don’t step any closer. That said, never take your eyes off or turn your back to the cougar while you do so. This gives the big cat a chance to lumber off and escape. And, most likely, that’s what’s gonna happen.
But, what if the cougar starts approaching you? Well, wildlife officials say you need to make yourself appear bigger. For example, raise your arms over your head or open up your jacket. They strongly urge you not to run as it’ll activate the cougar’s predatory instincts.
Meaning, it’ll chase you and you will lose because it’s four paws on the ground versus two clumsy feet. Also, mountain lions can run up to 50mph whereas the fastest human only reached 28mph.
So yeah, resist that flight urge because it will be the death of you, hands down.
Officials also advise you to never crouch or bend over because the cougar might mistake you for prey. Mountain lions are smart and they don’t mistake standing humans as a tasty snack. But, if you bend over, you change your shape and might come across as a four legged animal, like a deer.
But, what if the cougar persists on approaching you even AFTER you appeared as big as you could? Well, that’s when wildlife officials say you need to look for projectiles to throw. Just don’t bend over or turn your back to the beast while looking for a good rock to throw.
That said, you don’t actually want to strike the cougar, but land it right in front of them. Don’t throw your things at it just yet. All you want to accomplish is to appear big and dangerous to the cougar so they’ll lose interest.
But, if that doesn’t work, that’s when wildlife officials admit your safety comes first, and you need to take direct aim at the creature.
And, if the cougar attacks, you fight it with everything you have. Mountain lions will go for your head and neck, so protect those and do everything you can to remain standing. Past reports reported people using rocks, sticks, gardening tools, and their bare hands to win a fight against a cougar.
Again, it’s highly unlikely you will ever need to exercise these tips in the wild, but they’re good to know just in case. Keep these tips in the back of your mind whenever you go hiking. Best advice is if you see a mountain lion, keep your distance and don’t panic.
Also, tell the proper authorities of the sighting as soon as you’re able.
So, how do you feel now that there’s a “credible sighting” of a mountain lion? Let me know in the comments below.