DOW Destroys Mountain Lion in NE Colorado Springs

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The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) had to destroy a 130 pound adult male mountain lion Monday night in the Briargate subdivision in Colorado Springs. The lion had taken cover under some very thick shrubbery in a backyard on Mainsail Court near Union and Lexington.

“It is unusual to have such a mature lion in that part of Colorado Springs,” said Dave Lovell, the assistant regional manager for the DOW. “It took several hours before our officers could get a clear visual. Initial reports were that it was a small lion, but it was so well concealed in the shrubbery, that it was impossible to determine the exact size until it moved into another location in the back yard.”

“We are extremely thankful for the cooperation we received from the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) and the homeowners in the neighborhood to bring this situation to a close without anyone being injured,” said Lovell.

The episode began at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Monday, June 6 when a security guard from Check’s Unlimited reported seeing a mountain lion on the company’s campus on North Union Boulevard. The call prompted a DOW officer to begin searching for lion.

Initial reports were that it was a small lion between 70 and 80 pounds.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. a homeowner on Mainsail Court called 911 to report a mountain lion hiding in dense bushes in his backyard. DOW and CSPD officers responded. After assessing the situation, the DOW concluded that it was impossible to tranquilize the lion in its present location.

As a safety precaution, the CSPD closed a nearby park and blocked streets leading into the neighborhood and went door-to-door to advise residents of the situation.

Over the next few hours DOW and CSPD officers continued to monitor the lion from various vantage points inside the home and the rooftop.

At approximately 9:20 p.m. the mountain lion came out of the thick bushes, but did not leave the backyard. At that time it became clear it was not a young lion but a large adult.

For the next twenty minutes attempts were made to haze the lion to encourage it to leave the back yard in the hopes it would go southeast toward a drainage ditch and eventually out of the city.

Shortly before 10 p.m. DOW Officers fired rubber buckshot at the lion to further encourage it to leave the property. The lion was hit, but did not leave. Instead, it moved back into thick shrubbery.

“Our officers tried to provide the lion with every opportunity to leave the back yard on its own, but it did not,” said Lovell.

As the scene continued to unfold, it was determined the lion had an injured leg caused by being hit with the rubber buckshot. “A wounded lion can be the most dangerous kind,” said Lovell.

DOW officers waited until approximately 10:30 p.m. before they got an opportunity for a clear, safe shot to kill the mountain lion.

According to DOW files, mountain lions are more common on the west side of Colorado Springs, but there have been only a few sporadic reports of lion sightings east of Academy Boulevard in the last dozen years.

Mountain lions will travel large distances – as much as 25 miles in a day – following the movements of their natural prey: deer and small mammals. If there are deer in an area, it is normal to find mountain lions, but the Briargate subdivision does not have deer. Lions do not normally stay in an area without deer, but move to another location in search of food.

Mountain lion habitat represents roughly 65 percent of the land mass in Colorado. The DOW estimates there are between 3,000 and 7,000 lions in the state, with the number most likely in the 4,500 to 5,000 range.

Adult female mountain lions average 100 pounds. Average adult males average 150 pounds. Lions over 200 pounds are rare.