Seven cougars spotted near Gallina Canyon | Environment


Robert Remiger, who lives near a Forest Service boundary in Gallina Canyon, said he used to see bears on his property. Once a bear managed to break into Remiger’s house. However, in a rare case, on January 10, he spotted mountain lion snow prints on his property with his wife.

Shortly after spotting the tracks, a snowmobile outfitter approached Remiger and said he had seen seven lions in all: one male, two females and four cubs. Remiger was mostly concerned about the horses he has on his property, but did some research and found that lions attacking horses are quite rare. Eventually he alerted his neighborhood association and said there were active mountain lions in the area.

These elusive predators tend to avoid wide open spaces and prefer wooded areas. Their elusive nature makes it difficult to get an accurate count. In New Mexico, the Department of Game and Fish estimates that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 cougars in the state.

Although encounters with mountain lions are rare, and reports of these animals attacking humans are often rarer, they can happen. For example, in 2008 a man from Pinos Altos was attacked and killed by a mountain lion. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish urges people to be cautious and alert in areas they may inhabit.

In general, however, cougars are more threatened by humans than vice versa.

For example, the Game and Fisheries Department estimates that a total of 331 cougars were killed by hunters between 2020 and 2021, with over a hundred lions killed in sport hunting.

“I think these large predators get bad press,” said Hilary DeVries, wildlife rehabilitation manager at the nonprofit New Mexico Wildlife Center.

DeVries added that cougars have home territories that can stretch for miles. Usually, she said, when spotted on properties or on hiking trails, they just “pass through.”

“But keep your dogs on a leash when walking them. Make sure they’re not going to run up to him and try to attack him or anger him,” DeVries said.

Cougars are carnivorous; their diet includes deer, elk, and smaller prey such as rabbits. The Department of Game and Fisheries says cougars feeding on a cache of food are extremely dangerous and should always be avoided.

The national advocacy group, the Mountain Lion Foundation, says they can run at speeds of 50mph and jump 15ft into a tree. When meeting, the foundation advises people not to run but rather to stand up straight and maintain eye contact and slowly wave their arms and speak firmly (also to throw objects at the animal if necessary ).

DeVries said to notify Game and Fish if any mountain lions are on your property or near where you live.


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