Hiker Fends Off Mountain Lion Attack With Opera

Hiker Fends Off Mountain Lion Attack With.. Opera
UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 03: Cougar, Puma or Mountain Lion (Puma concolor), Felidae. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 03: Cougar, Puma or Mountain Lion (Puma concolor), Felidae. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

If the hills in Colorado are alive with the sound of music, there's a chance the singer is Kyra Kopenstonsky, a woman who says she used opera to scare off a mountain lion.

The 40-year-old woman contacted authorities earlier this month after encountering a mountain lion "in close proximity," following her as she hiked by herself on a trail near Telluride, Colo. The big cat stalked her for between 20 and 30 minutes, despite her efforts to frighten it with a large branch.

"I would back up and it would creep forward, so I'd stop. Eventually it sort of crouched down, like part way," Kopestonsky told 9News, recounting the experience. "So, I start backing up down the mountain, which was really steep. And then it got up and walked toward me. At the closest point, it was eight feet away."

Kopestonsky says she isn't sure why she started singing opera, exactly, but she put her heart into it and sang "really loud." At that point, she says, "It kind of put its ears down and just kept looking at me, and it sort of backed away."

But she wasn't done with the animal yet: The lion jumped forward every time she tried to take a few steps backwards. At one point the cat appeared to wander off, then came at her from the side, the sheriff said.

Eventually, Kopestonsky reached the trailhead where the sheriff and six deputies were waiting for her, putting an end to the terrifying hike.

In a release, Sheriff Masters sang Kopestonsky's praises, commending her for keeping cool in a scary situation. “We’re glad this turned out to be nothing more than a frightening experience for the hiker." He said. "She was obviously educated as to what to do in this unexpected situation.”

In fact, you might say she's a smooth operetta.

The office shared these tips for hikers who encounter mountain lions:
  • 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.

hat tip: Reddit

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