Coexisting with Cougars
With the heavy winter that we’ve been experiencing here in Utah, wildlife including deer, elk, and mountain lions have moved into lower elevations and into the urban-wildlands interface. When mountain lions show up at our backdoor, the best thing we can do is discourage them from lingering. The following are steps you can take to make your backyard uninviting to a mountain lion so that it only passes through an urban area, rather than sticking around, keeping both them and us safe!
Reduce hiding places - Trim low hanging branches and shrubs, cover up crawl spaces and remove debris piles. As a stalk and ambush predator, mountain lions are less inclined to hang out in places where they can’t easily hide.
Reduce food sources - Avoid storing pet food or animal feed outside, thoroughly clean barbeque grills and other outdoor food preparation areas, keep compost piles contained, remove carved pumpkins before they rot, and keep gardens or other plants that are attractive to animals contained with fencing or taste/smell deterrents. All of these food sources can attract animals that mountain lions may see as prey.
Install deterrents - Motion-activated lights, sounds and sprinklers can help spook animals that come into your yard so they don't linger or see it as part of their habitat.
Talk with your neighbors - Once you have implemented these steps, share what you do with your neighbors and encourage them to take these steps too. It's much more effective to act collectively than on your own.
Pets and Outdoor Animals
Exercise caution when walking or letting out dogs at night - From dusk to dawn, it’s always best to avoid leaving dogs outdoors unless they are fully contained in a dog run or kennel. When letting dogs out for bathroom breaks at night, turn on lights and monitor them closely. Better yet, keep them on a leash and go out with them. When walking your dog between dusk and dawn or in places that may have mountain lions, keep them leashed.
Try to keep cats indoors, especially at night - Outdoor cats can decimate bird populations, and they can occasionally become a prey item for a desperate mountain lion or other wild animals. Avoid letting cats live outside, or if they are an outdoor-indoor cat, keep them in at night by locking their cat door.
Keep chickens and other permanent backyard animals in a secure enclosure - Mountain lions will occasionally prey on chickens and other small domestic animals that have to be kept outside if they are not in a fully secure enclosure. Such an enclosure should have a roof, four walls, and ideally something to keep animals from digging into the enclosure (mountain lions won’t dig, but foxes and other wild animals can). If you are not using a secure enclosure, consider looking online for a better option or a way to retrofit your existing enclosure. Even if you have free range animals, make sure they are back in the enclosure and locked up at night.
Goats and sheep - Just like any other domestic animal, goats and sheep need to be protected at night. The best protection for these animals is to keep them in a barn, fully enclosed pen, or a trailer from dusk until dawn. If you cannot keep them secure in an enclosure, there are a variety of other deterrents you can use. Putting fox lights or flagging on a fence can deter some predators, as well as motion-activated lights and sounds. You might also consider getting a livestock guardian dog.
We’d like to thank this Utah resident for sharing their footage and experience with us of a family of mountain lions that recently visited their property. They shared within their community that lions were present so that everyone could be aware and take the necessary precautions. We’d like to thank them for their calm and practical approach to having a family of mountain lions nearby.
If you are concerned about mountain lions or have questions about them, please reach out to us anytime.