Jackson - Cougar
How many kitties do you count? Photo courtesy Tiffany Smith

JACKSON, Wyo. — Videos of a family of mountain lions strolling through a Jackson neighborhood have already been shared more than 3,000 times on Facebook since they were posted last night.

The videos were captured on Tiffany Smith’s Nest home camera at 7:45 a.m. Monday. It’s far from the first wildlife encounter the cameras have documented, she said. She’s seen bears, moose, and foxes pass right outside her front door thanks to her Nest. But six mountain lions were certainly new.

The lions seem to be a family of five cubs plus a mama. Five kittens in one litter is “very rare,” said Wyoming Game & Fish Public Information Specialist Mark Gocke, though not totally unheard of. If nothing else, it’s a “neat occurrence.”

“We should enjoy [the video] for what it is,” Gocke said.

Friendly neighborhood cougars from Buckrail on Vimeo.

And what it is is a salient reminder of how close Jackson residents live to wildlife. Lions show up in residential areas every year right around this time, Gocke said — a cougar spotted south of town filled an entire block with onlookers just last month. The Snake River Corridor is just west of where this family of six was spotted, which is a year-round natural travel route for mountain lions, Gocke said. The family was most likely just passing through, and is already “here and gone.”

It’s not the animals’ behavior that has changed, Gocke said. It’s ours.

“I suspect we’ve had lions in residential areas for a long time,” he said. We just haven’t always had cameras to capture them.

Assuming the family of cats was just passing through and carries on its way, then no harm no foul, Gocke said. Game & Fish is paying attention. But Gocke has never heard of a local conflict between a human and a cat. He’d like to keep it that way.

There are “common sense” things we can do to live safely among our wild neighbors, Gocke said. Number one: don’t feed them, under any circumstances, not even accidental. That means keeping trash and any food scraps in a secure place.

If you’re worried about pets, keep them inside or on a leash. Pet food counts as food, so it should be kept inside, too.

If you do by chance come face-to-face with a mountain lion, “let them know you’re a person,” Gocke said. Make noise, wave your arms.

Otherwise, no need to panic. Let lions be lions.

Cougar family from Buckrail on Vimeo.

Shannon is a Wyoming-raised writer and reporter. She just completed a master's in journalism from Boston University. Jackson shaped her into an outdoorswoman, but a love for language and the human condition compels her to write. She believes there's no story too small to tell nor adventure too small to take.