Mountain lions aren’t the most uncommon animal in the world, but spotting one is still a pretty rare occurrence. In Colorado, their population sits somewhere around 3,000 to 7,000 (quite the range, I know) and the Front Range area of the state is pretty much perfect mountain lion habitat. But they’re rather elusive, and though sightings are certainly on the rise, they remain pretty hard to spot.
Vail 4×4 Tours managed to catch an even more rare sight on camera, a mountain lion crossing a flowing river, and shared it with the world. According to Fox 31, owner Ben Hilley reports that Vail 4×4 Tours spot wildlife all the time, including elk, black bears, and more, but mountain lions are only spotted on super rare occasions.
“Over the past 15 years and thousands of hours on trail, I’ve seen two. I even tell our guests, they are there but we won’t see them. This sighting was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” – Ben Hilley
Unlike their house pet counterparts, mountain lions are actually fairly strong swimmers. A recent study followed the GPS-collared cat M161, also known as Nolan, as he swam two thirds of a mile through Puget Sound, and other examples have shown them swimming over a mile for food and other resources.
So, yeah, they can swim pretty far, and they can certainly swim across a flowing river like this guy.
Mountain Lion Safety:
Mountain lion attacks are very rare, but it’s always important to remember safety tips provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife when hiking or moving in mountain lion territory. Travel in groups and make plenty of noise to make your presence known, as you definitely don’t want to startle a big cat. If you see one, do not approach and stay calm. Stop and back away slowly if possible. Running could trigger the animal’s attack instinct, and make sure the animal has a way to escape. Throw stones if the mountain lion begins to act aggressively and, in the rare case that it actually attacks, fight back.
Image Credit: Vail 4×4 Tours via Instagram