Hiker says opera scared off mountain lion

PLACERVILLE – A hiker had a close encounter with a mountain lion in Down Valley Park on Monday, and singing might have saved her life.

Ohio native Kyra Kopestonsky moved to Placerville a year and a half ago because she enjoyed hiking area trails.

"I thought it was really beautiful," Kopestonsky said in an interview with 9NEWS. "I [had] never seen a mountain lion."

Kopestonsky said that all changed Monday afternoon when she hiked 10 minutes off the main trail in Down Valley Park and heard a twig snap.

"I just sort of caught a glimpse of brown out of the corner of my eye and thought 'oh there's an animal here,'" Kopestonsky said. "I turned around and looked, and then [the mountain lion] was just standing there between 10 and 15 feet away from me."

Kopestonsy tried to loose the mountain lion, but the animal stalked her for half an hour.

"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. And then it got up and walked toward me. At the closest point, it was eight feet away."

Finally, she decided to try something different.

"I don't know why, I just started singing opera really loud," Koestonsky said. "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."

During the ordeal Kopestonsky had the presence of mind to call her housemate, who alerted the San Miguel County Sheriff's about the situation.

Kopestonsky believes the predator eventually left her alone because it lost interest.

When she finally made it back to the trail head she was met by deputies.

According to a press release from the San Miguel Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Bill Masters said, "in his 34-years as Sheriff there have been dozens of mountain lion 'sightings,' but this is only the second 'stalking' incident reported."

Kopestonsky believes that the lion weighed about 150 pounds and told deputies that it was "two and a half to three feet long with no identifiable spots, tag or collar."

"We're glad this turned out to be nothing more than a frightening experience for the hiker," Masters said in a press release. "She is obviously educated as to what to do in this unexpected situation."

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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