Colorado Parks and Wildlife warns Grand Lake residents of continued mountain lion activity
Recent attacks have left one dog dead, two others injured
Update: This story has been updated to correct the phone number for the Hot Sulphur Springs Colorado Parks and Wildlife office.
After an increase in mountain lion attacks in Grand County, including Grand Lake, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has issued a report warning residents to stay vigilant, since lions remain in the area.
Residents have witnessed more mountain lion activity in recent months, both on security cameras and with their own eyes. Based on sightings, Grand Lake residents believed three lions were in their area. Parks and Wildlife stated the first reported attack took place on Dec. 19, 2022, west of Shadow Mountain Reservoir.
“After letting her dog out around 10 p.m., the dog owner heard her dog make a noise,” the report stated. “While opening the door to see what was going on, the owner hit the mountain lion with the door, causing it to drop the dog and run off. The dog was injured, but survived.”
The second attack also took place in the Shadow Mountain Reservoir area. On Jan. 19, Grand Lake resident Sara Gonzales was returning from a walk with her dog. A lion ambushed the dog from underneath a porch, killing it. After attempts to scare the lion away failed, Sara’s husband shot and killed the lion. The lion was a female, about 7 years old.
“After investigating, the responding wildlife officer determined there was a threat to human health and safety and did not ticket the dog owner,” the report stated.
The latest attack occurred on Monday, Jan. 23. Grand Lake resident Cathy Lund was returning home from a walk with her dog. As they reached their front door, a lion lunged and grabbed the dog. Lund succeeded in scaring the lion away, and the injured dog was taken to the veterinarian’s office.
Parks and Wildlife officers responded to the scene, tracking the lion down by following tracks in the snow to a nearby tree.
According to the report, the wildlife officers decided there was a threat to human health and safety based on information from the owner. An officer euthanized the lion, which they determined to be a female, about 1.5-2 years old.
Residents had witnessed three lions traveling together, and it’s possible the sub-adult was the kitten of the seven-year-old female lion who had killed the Gonzales’ dog. Kittens sometimes travel with their mother up to about 2 years, although they normally separate at about 15 months.
In response to the recent attacks, area wildlife manager Jeromy Huntington stated, “These are unfortunate situations. Incidents like these serve as a good reminder that we live in mountain lion country and being aware of our surroundings is important.”
In their report, Parks and Wildlife outlined the following measures people can take to live safely in mountain lion habitat.
- When letting pets out between dusk through dawn (when mountain lions are most active), check the area, turn lights on and make noise before letting pets outside. Keep a close eye on them and never leave them out overnight.
- If owners must leave pets outside overnight, keep them in a kennel with a secure top.
- Keep dogs leashed during walks. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract mountain lions.
- Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors, especially during dusk-to-dawn hours and teach them to be SMART if they have a close encounter with a mountain lion.
- S- Stop. Do not run!
- M- Make yourself look big.
- A- Announce your presence in an authoritative voice: “LEAVE ME ALONE, LION!”
- R- Retreat by backing away slowly.
- T- Tell an adult about the encounter.
- When encountering lions on their property, residents can haze them away from by making loud noises — setting off a car alarm, banging pots and pans together, blowing a whistle or air horn, etc.
- Do not feed wildlife. Feeding one species will bring in the entire food chain. Remove bird feeders. Birdseed will attract numerous small game and deer, which will in turn invite mountain lions.
- Don’t feed pets outside; this can entice other animals that are prey for mountain lions.
- If deer are lingering on their property, residents can haze them away (yell, use an air horn, alarms, etc.) to minimize the chance of a mountain lion encounter. Deer and other prey will bring mountain lions.
“It’s important to know how to protect yourself, children and your pets, and what to do if you see a mountain lion,” said Huntington. “We also want to stress the importance of ensuring you are not attracting mountain lions to your home.”
The report states that the goal is to make a mountain lion feel as uncomfortable and unwanted as possible so they will leave. Although two aggressive lions have been killed, Grand Lake and Grand County at large are home to other lions.
“It is important that we are notified of a mountain lion sighting or conflict immediately,” said Parks and Wildlife Officer Serena Rocksund. “The sooner we know, the sooner we can start monitoring the lion and their behavior.”
To report a mountain lion sighting or encounter in Grand and Summit counties, contact the Hot Sulphur Springs District office at 970-725-6200. For after-hours wildlife emergencies, contact the Colorado State Patrol at 970-824-6501 and they will forward all reports on to wildlife officers.
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