A string of mountain lion attacks on dogs and goats in recent weeks has left pet owners in one Colorado mountain town on edge, but wildlife officials aren't convinced that the latest incident actually involved a big cat.
According to an article in the Vail Daily, David Simmons of Silverthorne, CO reported that a mountain lion had attacked his blue heeler pitbull mix, named Moogley, on Monday evening. Simmons says he had just let the dog out after dinner when he heard what he describes as a loud "cat noise."
When he went to check on his dog, he says he saw it being pinned down by a mountain lion. After what he says was a split second, he leapt towards it and upon reaching the lion, it threw him off and ran away. Simmons landed on his patio unhurt and Moogley was left with with some gashes and scratches.
“I got very lucky. There was no thought process there," says Simmons. “The cat’s got the dog. I have one split-second decision. ‘OK, cat, It’s you and I.'”
The day prior, a mountain lion had attacked a dog in a nearby neighborhood in a similar incident where the owner lunged at the cat and scared it off. That mountain lion is suspected in being responsible for several missing pets and three dead goats in the area over the past month, according to reporting in the Summit Daily.
However, in this incident, officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife say they're not so sure that attacker was a mountain lion after failing to find any mountain lion tracks – CPW district wildlife manager Alex Strasser says the tracks they did find were more likely to be from a coyote or a large dog.
To that, Simmons says, the wildlife official wasn't there.
“It was a (expletive) cat. We can have that dispute all we want."
Mountain lion safety
Though it's extremely rare to see a mountain lion, attacks do happen; in October, we reported on a California hiker who was injured defending their dog.
Mountain lions are extremely elusive, but winter time can drive them into residential areas in search of food. When hiking or walking your dog in mountain lion country, always be alert and keep your pets and small children close. If you do encounter a mountain lion, don't run. Keep facing it, back away slowly and make yourself appear large. Make noise and throw objects at the lion if it pursues you. Learn more in our article on what to do if you meet a mountain lion.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.