Can music soothe a savage beast? If you were to ask 40-year-old Kyra Kopenstonsky, she will tell you that it might have saved her from a cougar attack. Kopenstonsky was hiking a trail near Down Valley Park in Placerville, Colorado on Monday when she encountered a mountain lion. According to a report by the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, the lion stalked the hiker for about 20 minutes, during which it would often jump forward and crouch whenever Kopenstonsky attempted to move backwards. She told deputies that when she first saw the animal, she picked up a large branch and attempted to look big. That did not seem to faze the cat, so Kopenstonsky said she did the next thing that came to her mind.

“I don’t know why, I just started singing opera really loud,” Koestonsky later told KUSA. “It kind of put its ears down and just kept looking at me, and it sort of backed away. Then, it came around the bushes an came towards me again and crouched about 10 feet away.”

Although the singing did not repel the animal, it may have deterred the mountain lion from directly attacking the hiker. Koestonsky said that the large cat alternated from grooming itself, pacing, and following her. At one point, the mountain lion was a mere eight feet away from the hiker.

“I would back up and it would creep forward, so I’d stop. Eventually it sort of crouched down, like part way,” Kopestonsky said. “So, I start backing up down the mountain, which was really steep.”

The hiker took advantage of lulls in the encounter to call her roommate, who in turn informed the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff William Masters and six deputies responded to the emergency, but Kopestonsky emerged at the trailhead by herself. Deputies noted that the woman as shaken, but uninjured.

“We’re glad this turned out to be nothing more than a frightening experience for the hiker. She was obviously educated as to what to do in this unexpected situation,” Sheriff Masters said.

Masters added that the county is not known for mountain lion sightings, having only a few dozen reported in his 34 years in office and only one prior stalking. The Colorado Department of Wildlife has been notified of the encounter and are considering what, if any, actions the department will take. Kopestonsky described the mountain lion as healthy, uninjured, and not acting strangely outside of following her and wildlife officials have not stated whether the incident should be considered a predatory act.

In a press release, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office shared the following tips for those who decide to venture into cougar territory:

  • Travel in groups, keep children close by, and make plenty of noise to lower your chances of surprising a lion.
  • If you spot a mountain lion, do not approach it, especially one that is feeding or with kittens.
  • Allow the lion a way to escape. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation.
  • Face the lion, try to stay calm, do NOT run, as that may stimulate a lion’s instinct to chase and attack.
  • Stand upright, grab a large stick if possible, and raise your arms in an effort to appear larger, and back away slowly.
  • Sing or speak in a firm voice to help demonstrate that you are human and not prey.
  • If you have small children with you, pick them up.
  • If the lion becomes aggressive, wave your arms, shout and throw objects at it. Do not turn your back to the lion or bend down.
  • Mountain lion attacks are extremely rare. In fact, there is a greater risk of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a mountain lion. If attacked, fight back.

File image from Greg Hume on the Wikimedia Commons

What's Your Reaction?

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

30 thoughts on “Colorado Hiker Sings Opera to Calm Stalking Mountain Lion

      1. What the hell? How is that a thing? I mean I obviously stand corrected but I’m not sure if I can go on living.

  1. Just guessing here,
    but if the cat wanted to eat her it would attack from behind. Maybe it was just
    playing with her, that is what cats do. That said, carry bear sized pepper
    spray, just in case.

    1. I love cats, have given money to mountain lion rescue organizations. That said, I would likely have fired one warning shot to try and scare kitty away with the noise, failing that, the next would have been a 200 gr hard-cast 10mm to the cranial vault. It is not good when a large predator lacks a health fear of man, not good for either of us.

  2. So…like the audience applauding at La Scala, the lion kept approaching threateningly until she got the aria right? 🙂

  3. Which opera? It would be helpful to know, so that the rest of us know what to sing in this situation. I’m betting “The Magic Flute” would have worked, but if she sang something from “Nixon in China” she would have been eaten very quickly.

  4. “Mountain lion attacks are extremely rare. In fact, there is a greater risk of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a mountain lion. If attacked, fight back.
    This statement means nothing. Only a small number of people even live in mountain lion country. Everybody on the planet is exposed to lightning. If people were exposed to mountain lions at the same rate they were exposed to lightning, the risk of being attacked by a lion would significantly exceed the risk of being struck by lightning..

  5. “Sing or speak in a firm voice to help demonstrate that you are human and not prey.” Why would a mountain lion think a human is not prey? We’re walking meat, just like any other animal. We don’t think of ourselves as prey, because we don’t think of ourselves as animals. A hungry mountain lion (or any other large predator) knows better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *