VIDEO: Mountain lion stalks hunter in southern Colorado

A man being stalked by a mountain lion in southern Colorado on Sunday lived to tell about it — and post a two-minute Facebook video capturing the encounter.

The incident occurred while Steve Shively was scouting for elk and changing cards in his trail cameras near Bayfield, which is between Durango and Pagosa Springs.

“After changing the memory cards and rustling around in the leaves, I stood up and turned around slowly, scanning the woods behind me,” Shively wrote in his Facebook post. “Suddenly, I spotted this motionless mountain lion crouched down behind a rock, ready to pounce on me. He had silently stalked to within 20 yards through the dry crunchy fall leaves on the ground.”

In subsequent comments on his post, Shively joked about how frightened he was, although he was armed.

“He had a fixed stare at me and didn’t flinch while I pulled my 9mm out of my pocket, racked one in the chamber, and fumbled with my cell phone,” Shively wrote. “He only moved when I started talking to him on video.”

In the video, viewers see a mountain lion blending in well with its surroundings, eyes firmly focused on Shively.

“You hold on there, kitty,” Shively says. “I see you. Yeah, I see you. You be good, kitty. Yeah, you behave, you behave. You back on out of here. Back on out of here. I’ve got a pistol.”

The lion warily leaves the area while glancing back at Shively.

“Yeah, you behave,” Shively says. “You behave now. You be good, kitty. I’ve got a pistol right here. You behave, go on.”

Reached Wednesday by telephone, Shively said he had never seen a mountain lion before.

“It was on my bucket list,” said Shively, a Bayfield resident who repairs medical equipment for a living. “I told my nephew, I’m crossing that one off with a big X, because that was a little too close for comfort.”

Shively acknowledged there was some comfort in having that handgun at the ready in case he needed to defend himself.

“I just happened to have my 9-millimeter in the car,” Shively said. “When I turned around and saw him, he was crouched, ready to leap. I don’t know if I could have gotten to my pistol, had he jumped on my back. The first thing I did, I went for the pistol. That immediately gave me more confidence in the situation. The lion never moved, he didn’t even flinch, until I started talking to him.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has received 62 mountain lion reports since the beginning of the month, according to spokesman Jason Clay. The Durango area has had the most with 14, while a CPW region that includes Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, Elbert counties and parts of Jefferson and Broomfield counties has had 11.

Jeffco Open Space officials reported a mountain lion sighting last month in Deer Creek Canyon Park on the Red Mesa Loop trail. In June, one was captured in a Longmont garage and released back into the wild by CPW officers after they tranquilized it.

In the past week, Clay said, there have been sightings in Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, Littleton and Morrison.

“That is not unusual for mountain lions to utilize our urban areas, and they are being spotted more often because of the increased usage of doorbell security cameras,” Clay said. “Plus, there are also a lot more people on the landscape.”

Kristin Cannon, CPW deputy manager for CPW’s northeast region and a former area wildlife manager, said it’s unclear whether mountain lion activity is increasing in the state.

“It is really difficult to measure mountain lion activity, and whether it’s increasing or decreasing,” Cannon said. “We’re trying to make reports more comparable year to year, but in the past we haven’t tracked it very consistently. If you talk to people about localized activity, that can be from an individual lion that’s just really visible, or it could be from lions moving into an area as they follow deer from one spot to another.”

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Cannon said hikers wishing to avoid mountain lions should refrain from hiking early in the morning and at dusk, and hike in larger groups.

“Sometimes those simple things can avoid an encounter,” Cannon said. “If they are hiking in mountain lion country, it’s always good to be aware of your surroundings, so don’t hike with headphones, be alert. Should someone encounter a lion, the important thing is to not run, to slowly back away. If you’ve got something you can throw at it, if it’s not immediately retreating, then go ahead and throw something at it. A majority of the time, mountain lions leave the area before you ever know they are there.”

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