A dog is recovering after being dragged from a backyard in central Colorado by a mountain lion, wildlife officials said.
Fortunately, the puppy’s owner came to the rescue and was able to scare the aggressive mountain lion away, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in an email.
Shawne Leach told Summit Daily she had just let her dog Furgus out when she heard “A strange cry. She yelled to the 14-month-old Australian shepherd and black-mouthed dog mix, but he didn’t respond, the outlet reported.
So Leach and her husband, Shannon, followed the cat’s large footprints in the 2 feet of snow in their backyard, crossed the frozen Snake River to the edge of the Keystone Ranch golf course, and interacted with the predator crouching above Fergus face to face. Leach told the media.
“I (yelled) back to Shannon, ‘Fergus is alive. We have to save him,'” Leach told the outlet. “I yelled to Shannon, ‘Shoot! Shoot!’ and the thing opened its mouth and hissed at me.”
Shannon Leach fired into the ground, but the cougar didn’t move, according to media reports. Next, he fired at the predator, and the cougar ran off into the darkness.
According to media reports, Fergus got up and walked toward them. Photos show the dog lost an eye in the ordeal but is otherwise in good condition.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed the mountain lion was not hit by bullets.
Officials said Fergus is recovering at home.
“This is a good reminder that Summit County is mountain lion country,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Rachel Gonzalez said.
“This is also a good reminder that it is illegal to kill a mountain lion because it attacks and/or kills your pet because they are considered personal property,” Gonzalez said. “Pet owners are concerned about themselves. To save his life, shoot at the mountain lion.” The lion scared it away. “
At the end of 2022, cougars were hunted a dozen dogs McClatchy News previously reported that it happened in a small town in Colorado.
Then in January 2023, a mountain lion killed a dog and maimed two others In another town about 25 miles northwest, all three attacks occurred outside residents’ homes, with at least two on homeowners’ porches, one of which involved a predator pouncing on it, McClatchy News reported. to the dog and grab it off the steps. .
Officials are reminding homeowners in mountain lion country of important tips to help keep their pets safe, including avoiding letting them outside unsupervised, especially at night.
If you do see a mountain lion, officials recommend making loud noises to drive it away from your property. You can use a car alarm, bang pots and pans, whistle or blow the horn, and more.
“Don’t make mountain lions uncomfortable in your yard. Our goal is to make the lions as uncomfortable as possible,” officials said.
Officials say it’s best to go outside with your pets when you let them out so you can keep an eye on them, especially during the cold winter months when it’s hard for predators to get food. Pet owners should also keep their dogs in a safe environment. Keep a leash on when out for walks, as roaming pets are vulnerable to predation and can attract mountain lions.
Do not feed pets outdoors as it can attract raccoons and other animals that fall prey to mountain lions. In fact, generally don’t feed any wild animals.
“Not only is it illegal, but feeding one species brings the entire food chain up,” officials said. That includes bird feeders, since bird feed will attract smaller game animals and deer to your yard, and attract more mountain lion.
It’s a good idea to make noise and turn on lights around your property, especially between dusk and dawn, when cougars are most active.
Wildlife officials are also asking residents to report mountain lion sightings or conflicts as soon as possible so officials can monitor the predators and their behavior.
What to do if you see a mountain lion
According to the National Park Service, mountain lions are generally “calm, quiet and elusive.” Attacks involving mountain lions Rare, but they are possible.
“Even so, the likelihood of being killed or injured by a mountain lion is quite low compared to many other natural disasters,” the National Park Service says on its website. “For example, the risk of being killed in the wild is much greater. .” There are more car accidents with deer than attacks by mountain lions. “
Officials say there are things you can do to prevent an encounter with a mountain lion from turning into an attack.
Stay calm and back away slowly.
Face the lion and stand straight.
Do not approach a mountain lion, especially if it has a kitten with it.
do not run. This triggers the mountain lion’s chasing instinct.
Pick up small children to prevent them from panicking or running away.
Do not bend or squat.
If the mountain lion continues to move toward you, throw something at it.
If a cougar attacks, use whatever is around you to fight back.
Report all sightings, encounters, or attacks to local park rangers or law enforcement.