Mountain lion wanders through Avon neighborhood
AVON – Avon resident Buz Didier had an unexpected visitor on his back deck: a mountain lion.
Around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, he looked out the window and spotted the animal outside his home on Eaglebend Drive.
“I saw the back of his body and his tail and I said, ‘I wonder what dog that is. I’ve never seen that dog before,'” he said. “Then I noticed his tail was definitely a mountain lion tail because it was rounded.”
Didier guesses the mountain lion weighed about 120 pounds. He said it sniffed around his deck for about 30 seconds before wandering off.
Didier has been keeping a closer eye on his dog ever since he saw the mountain lion.
“We don’t let the dog out of our sight,” he said.
Several Eaglebend Drive residents say they spotted the mountain lion or its paw prints near their homes last week.
Jackie Montgomery said her black Lab started barking frantically at the window of her home early Wednesday morning. When she went out on her deck, she saw a mountain lion about 150 feet away. It was walking on the far side of the Eagle River, which runs behind her home.
Eaglebend Drive resident Joan Sorensen heard about the mountain lion from her neighbors. She said it’s disconcerting to know it’s in such a densely populated area.
“There are apartments, churches, schools, and even a day-care facility within the vicinity,” she said in an e-mail. “We need a system put in place that would notify residents of dangers such as mountain lions in the immediate area so that people can take appropriate and immediate precautions. My biggest concern is that there are still neighbors out there that are totally unaware and allowing their children or pets out in the yard unsupervised.”
Two schools say they are being especially vigilant after police or wildlife officials contacted them about the mountain lion sighting. Staff at The Stone Creek Charter School in Avon ushered children inside last week after hearing about the mountain lion, office manager Tina Sommers said.
Since then, staff have been especially careful about watching the children when they are outside during recess or gym class, she said.
At The Vail Academy, students were away skiing when the school got word of the mountain lion, the school’s administrative assistant Mindy Denissen said. Since then, the staff have been especially careful about checking the fenced-in playground to make sure it’s free of mountain lions.
“We’re just really watching the kids on the playground,” she said.
After receiving calls about the mountain lion on Friday, an officer from the Colorado Division of Wildlife checked out the situation, department spokesman Randy Hampton said.
The officer spotted mountain lion tracks that led to the river but did not see the animal itself, he said. It’s not uncommon for people to see mountain lions this time of year, Hampton said.
“With some of the warm weather, the deer are moving around a little bit into areas that may be thawing off,” he said. “This is the time of year that deer herds start moving and lions are following the deer and the elk.”
He said wildlife officials do not have plans to do anything with that mountain lion at this time. He said people should keep their pets inside at night, and make sure parents supervise their children if they are playing outside during dawn or dusk. Bottom line: Western Colorado is mountain lion habitat.
“The lions are always there,” he said. “The fact that someone sees it does not make anybody any more or less safe. We live in mountain lion areas. People need to be aware of that and be cautious.”
If a mountain lion starts acting aggressive or hanging around residential areas regularly, officials may consider further action, Hampton said. The department could relocate or kill the mountain lion, he said.
This report comes on the heels of one last week in which an apparently malnourished mountain lion entered a Chaffee County residence Thursday, killing one dog and briefly trapping a mother and her two children inside the house.
Chaffee County Sheriff deputies evacuated the people from the home, and Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) officers tranquilized the lion.
The animal appeared to be significantly underweight for its age, according to DOW Area Wildlife Manager Jim Aragon. Officers decided to euthanize the animal after evaluating its condition, Aragon said. It is highly unusual for a mountain lion to enter a building.
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