Over the last three or four weeks there have been at least four verified cases of one or more mountain lions catching and eating pet dogs in the area between Chipita Park and Crystola.
“Mountain lion activities have increased in this area in recent weeks,” said Michael Seraphin, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We don't know if it is a single animal doing the killing or if it's a loose family group with a female and older cubs.”
Seraphin said lions, especially the males are great travelers; a 500-square-mile area is probably at the top of their range but they have been known to travel farther.
“We had document case several years ago of a mountain lion hit by a train in Oklahoma that was wearing a tag from Yellow Stone, Wyo.,” he said. “That isn't typical. What is typical is that they will stay in one part of their range as long as food is available and then move to a different part of the range.”
Mountain lion food is a big category. “They'll pretty much eat any small to medium size mammal,” Seraphin said. “Their natural source is usually deer but they will eat dogs, goats, alpacas, even chickens if they can get them.”
He suggested that homeowners keep their small livestock or outside dogs in covered pens or kennels or inside barns from dusk to dawn, the lions' preferred time to hunt.
“You want to keep the lions out and it protects your animals from more than one kind of carnivore,” he said. “It's extremely rare for lions to attack people. We've found that they typically consider four-legged animals as prey and two-legged animals, humans, as dangerous but you should still keep small children close and supervised while they are outdoors. Better safe than sorry.”
He said that humans can't always say that a particular species was living in the habitat first but in the case of mountain lions in Ute Pass that's probably true.
“We share the habitat,” he said. “You have to take precautions. You can hope they'll go away but if they do they'll be back.”
For more information about mountain lions, read or download “Living with Wildlife in Lion Country,” available at www.wildlife.state.co.us or the local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office in Colorado Springs.