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Mountain lion killed after attacks on pets

By Brooke Baitinger, The Idaho Statesman
Published: February 23, 2024, 6:18am

Wildlife officials killed a mountain lion they suspected of attacking goats — and a pet dog — in Colorado.

The first report of a mountain lion attacking goats came in Feb. 1 from a property in Silverthorne, about 65 miles west of Denver, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a news release. The cougar had killed three goats in the attack.

Three days later, a resident reported a mountain lion bit their pet dog, officials said in the release. The dog’s owner scared the mountain lion off and took their dog to a veterinarian to treat its injuries.

While investigating the incidents, wildlife officers followed a set of tracks but didn’t find any mountain lion, officials said.

After a cougar took another goat from a property in Silverthorne on Saturday, Feb. 10, wildlife officers followed its tracks and drag marks in the snow and trapped the big cat near where it had stashed the goat’s carcass, officials said.

Officials believe the same mountain lion is responsible for all three attacks in Silverthorne. They “determined it had lost all fear of humans and had become a threat to human health and safety” — and decided to euthanize the 1.5-2-year-old female.

About two weeks before the Feb. 10 attack, a mountain lion pounced on a dog in its backyard in nearby Dillon the night of Jan. 27 and dragged the dog away from its home, McClatchy News previously reported. That dog’s owners also scared the mountain lion off and took their dog to the vet.

However, officials don’t believe the same mountain lion was responsible for that attack.

Jeromy Huntington, area wildlife manager for the wildlife agency, called the situation “unfortunate” in the release.

“Incidents like these serve as a good reminder that we live in mountain lion country,” he said. “While we believe we were able to remove the mountain lion responsible for recent incidents, it’s important we continue to be aware of our surroundings and follow best practices for living in mountain lion country.”

It’s especially important for people with pets, livestock — and children — to take extra precautions to keep kids and animals safe.

What to do if you see a mountain lion

Mountain lions are typically “calm, quiet and elusive,” according to the National Park Service. While attacks involving mountain lions are rare, they are possible.

Officials said there are some steps you do take to prevent a mountain lion encounter from becoming an attack.

  • Stay calm and back away slowly.
  • Face the lion and stand up straight.
  • Don’t approach a mountain lion, especially if it’s with kittens.
  • Don’t run. It could stimulate a mountain lion’s chase instincts.
  • Pick up small children so they don’t panic or run away.
  • Don’t bend over or crouch down.
  • Throw things at the mountain lion if it continues to move toward you.
  • If the mountain lion attacks, fight back using anything around you.
  • Report all sightings, encounters or attacks to local park rangers or law enforcement.