A dog is recovering after a mountain lion dragged him from his backyard in central Colorado, wildlife officials said.
Fortunately, the puppy’s owners came to the rescue and managed to scare away the attacking mountain lion, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in an email.
Shawne Leach told Summit Daily she had just left her dog Furgus outside when she heard “a strange cry. She called her 14-month-old Australian Shepherd and black-mouthed Cur mix, but he didn’t answer, the outlet reported.
So Leach and her husband Shannon followed the cat’s large footprints through 2 feet of snow in their backyard, across the frozen Snake River and to the edge of the Keystone Ranch golf course – and came face to face with the predator as he crouched over Furgus. Leach told the outlet.
“I (yelled) to Shannon, ‘Furgus is still alive.’ We have to save him,'” Leach told the outlet. “I’m yelling at Shannon, ‘Shoot him! Shoot him!’ This thing had its mouth open and was hissing at me.
Shannon Leach fired into the ground, but the mountain lion did not move, the outlet reported. He then shot the predator, which fled into the darkness.
Furgus got up and walked toward them, the outlet reported. A photo shows the dog lost an eye during the ordeal, but was otherwise in pretty good shape.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed the mountain lion was not hit by any bullets.
Furgus is at home recovering from the ordeal, officials said.
“It’s a good reminder that Summit County is mountain lion country,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Rachael Gonzales.
“This is also a good reminder that it is illegal to kill a mountain lion for attacking and/or killing your pet, as it is considered personal property,” Gonzales said. “The animal owner feared for his life and shot the lion to scare it away.”
End of 2022, pumas killed more than a dozen dogs in a single Colorado town, McClatchy News previously reported.
Then in January 2023, mountain lions killed one dog and mutilated two others in another town about 25 miles northwest, McClatchy News reported. All three attacks took place just outside residents’ homes, with at least two of them on the owners’ porches — one when the predator lunged at the dog and grabbed it on the steps.
Authorities have reminded owners in mountain lion country of important tips to keep their pets safe, including avoiding leaving them outside unsupervised, especially at night.
If you see a mountain lion, authorities recommend driving it away from your property by making loud noises. You can use your car alarm, bang pots and pans together, whistle or honk, etc.
“Don’t let mountain lions get comfortable in your yard,” officials said. “The goal is to make the lion as uncomfortable as possible.”
When leaving animals outside, it’s best to go outside with them so you can monitor them, especially during the colder winter months when food is harder for predators to find, officials said. Pet owners should also keep their dogs on a leash when walking outside, as stray animals make easy prey and can attract mountain lions.
Do not feed your pets outside, as this can attract raccoons and other animals that are prey for mountain lions. In fact, don’t feed any wild animals in general.
“Not only is it illegal, but feeding one species will cause the entire food chain to disappear,” officials said. This includes bird feeders, because birdseed attracts small game and deer to your yard – and invites more mountain lions.
It’s a good idea to make noise and turn on lights around your property, especially between dusk and dawn, when mountain lions are most active.
Wildlife officials also ask residents to report mountain lion sightings or conflicts as soon as possible so authorities can monitor the predators and their behavior.
What to do if you see a mountain lion
Mountain lions are generally “calm, quiet and elusive,” according to the National Park Service. While attacks involving mountain lions are rare, they are possible.
“Even so, the risk of being killed or injured by a mountain lion is quite low compared to many other natural hazards,” the National Park Service said on its website. “For example, there is a much greater risk of being killed in a car accident with a deer than of being attacked by a mountain lion.”
Officials said there are certain 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 up straight.
Do not approach a mountain lion, especially if it is with kittens.
Do not run. This could stimulate a mountain lion’s hunting instinct.
Pick up young children so they don’t panic or run away.
Do not bend or crouch.
Throw items at the mountain lion if it continues to move towards you.
If the mountain lion attacks, fight back using everything around you.
Report all sightings, encounters, or attacks to local park rangers or law enforcement.