I didn’t get eaten by a mountain lion on the trail because it was at my kid’s school instead

The first time I got an email from Charlie’s school telling me that there had been a mountain lion sighting, and the kids were being made to go home in pairs or have a parent collect them, I thought it was a joke.

But I was assured it wasn’t, so I had a heart attack, and made sure I went to school to pick up the kids – all the while looking around wildly for the impending attacking animal.

Now, three years later, mountain lions are part of my everyday reality. I have a mutual understanding with the lions. Don’t come near me, and I won’t come near you. I’ll hike the South Boulder lower foothills (you all stay up North Boulder way) with my dog (my alarm system), staying away from the deer (you know them as ‘dinner’). And life goes on.

I swapped Aussie redback spiders and blue tongue lizards for mountain lions and bears. Fair? Yep.

The old-school way of keeping track of mountain lions. Social media would be far more effective. (Pic credit: Flickr Creative Commons pst)

And so recently I got a lovely long email from my mum, who was a little worried about my four mile hiking. She saw the pictures of my trail and she also saw the local Boulder Daily Camera’s story about a mountain lion being on campus which I’d shared on Facebook (I coulda thought that one through a little more). She was concerned about the mountain lions. She said she hoped she was just being silly and that as soon as I said as much, she’d feel better.

So today I got to email her back with the great news that yes, it’s silly. I didn’t run into any mountain lions this morning on my hike, and they’re really not a problem. I told her it’s kind of like redback spiders in Australia. They’re around, but we just deal with them.

But a couple of weeks ago I came across a carcass on the trail. Picked clean. I have since discovered that it was a deer. I know this because Jet has brought various identifying bones (including a rib cage and spine) down from her recent just-off-the-trail pursuits. EW! To me, this is even worse than her poo-eating habit.

At about the same time, guess what – it was up at Charlie’s school! Again! This time I knew it wasn’t a joke. I think it’s pretty awesome that a school principal gets to send an email out like this (yes, this is the exact email):

Dear Parents and Guardians,

At approximately 11 this morning a mountain lion or bobcat was reported in the area of (our school). The lion was sighted under the solar panels of the preschool across the fence from our school grounds. As a precaution, children were kept inside for lunch recess.  We will conduct a regular school dismissal today but want you to take consideration in your child’s to and from school travel.

Although bears, mountain lions and other wildlife are in our area, unseen, much of the time, this is a good opportunity to remind ourselves and our students of safety as it relates to mountain lions & other wildlife.  For information about how to avoid encounters with wildlife and how to respond if a wildlife encounter occurs, visit the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s website. A good place to start is the education portion of the website, accessible through this link:



Nice, right?

So then I got an email from Jed – “Can you please pick up Charlie today? Mountain lion appears to be waiting to pick off little kids.” I love Jed’s sensitive nature, and the fact that he still managed to offload the pick up the kid task to me.

That said I’ve come to terms with the fact that lions are watching us all through the Fall season. They don’t want to run into us, and I don’t want to run into them. I just wish they’d also check in on foursquare or something, so I can definitely tell mum that I won’t be meeting any of them any time soon, and she can stop worrying.

Pic credit for mountain lion because I won’t be taking a picture myself anytime soon: Flickr: s_mestdagh

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