EL PASO, Texas - In the wake of a mountain lion sighting in Montana Vista on Tuesday, officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife are educating the public on what to do if they encounter one.
"They're extremely flexible animals, very opportunistic," urban biologist Lois Balin said. "They could be found in any habitat where they have enough cover, enough food and enough water."
El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies and Animal Control Officers responded to an animal call in reference to a possible mountain lion sighting.
Deputies arrived at a residence located in the 14100 block of Seattle Slew Avenue in Montana Vista, and saw a mountain lion in the backyard of the home.
Texas Wildlife, El Paso Zoo and the State Veterinarian for our region also responded to the call. The veterinarian tranquilized the mountain lion without any incident to the animal or deputies.
Mountain lions can jump up to 13-feet in the air from a stationary position, so fences do little to stop them.
Balin said if you do come face-to-face with a mountain lion to stay calm, but be aware of your surroundings.
"The first thing you want to do is back up slowly," Balin said. "Unless you have small children with you, then the first thing to do would be to pick those kids up off the ground. If it's a hungry lion, and it's going to go after something, it's going to go after the weakest member."
If a mountain lion charges you, Balin said the best thing to do is to try and fight.
"You would pick up some rocks, sticks anything you have and just throw it at it," Balin said. "Shout, scream, make yourself big and tall and generally it will run away."
Balin said since she's been working with Texas Parks and Wildlife, there's never been a mountain lion attack, and that sightings are rare.
"They're solitary mainly -- except for the female and her cubs," Balin said. "They just come together for breeding purposes, so they're mostly solitary animals. They're quite elusive, very shy, very secretive."
- Back away slowly from mountain lion
- Pick up and shield children
- If mountain lion is aggressive, try to fight back with rocks or sticks and scare it away
- Don't leave food or water outside -- it could attract mountain lions