Lions are on the hunt in Edwards, wildlife officials say
Mother mountain lions appear to be giving hunting lessons in populated areas
EDWARDS — An unusual amount of mountain lion sightings have been taking place in Edwards, and residents have been warned to stay on the lookout.
According to a press release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, up to 10 mountain lions might be in the area. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials suspect there are two female cats, each with a litter of three to four juveniles.
Make no mistake: mountain cubs aren’t kittens
So learned the Colorado trail runner who fought for his life against a young cat earlier this month. Juveniles can be aggressive, and they are definitely more foolish than their elders when it comes to choice of prey.
That’s not to say young cats are much more vulnerable. The mental development of juvenile cats is surpassed by their physical development; young lions can be as large, or even larger, than their mothers.
Meanwhile, the mothers are helping their young adapt better hunting skills. They’re giving hunting lessons in areas of ample food, bringing them closer to town and prompting Colorado Parks and Wildlife to make further suggestions to the public.
Among those suggestions: Don’t feed the animals that mountain lions prey upon.
“Predators follow prey. Don’t feed any wildlife,” warned District Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita in the release.
Don’t feed the cats, one way or another
When Colorado Parks and Wildlife says to not feed any wildlife, they’re talking about more than just cleaning up after your picnic.
Dogs, cats, livestock and other domesticated animals should be safely sheltered at night; that’s the other obvious part. What Colorado Parks and Wildlife also suggests in the release may not be so obvious: do some precautionary landscaping.
Non-native shrubs and plants can encourage other wildlife, such as deer, to come into your yard. Even if deer aren’t present at the time, their lingering scent alone could draw a hunting party full of expectation to your property.
If you have plants that other critters like, and you live in an area of high mountain lion activity, you may want to get those garden sheers out before spring even hits.
Sighting in Cordillera
Suzanne Hoffman had quite the surprise waiting on her doorstep one morning a few weeks back.
The Cordillera resident found a mother lion and her three cubs curled together, right outside her front door around 6 a.m. The creatures appeared docile at the time, so Hoffman stayed on the other side of the door, snapped a few photos and then went about her morning.
It wasn’t the last she saw of the pack. Around 6 p.m. that night, the lions returned to Hoffman’s property. They’ve remained in the area since, but have become more elusive.
“My neighbor down the street spotted them recently in one of the cabin ruins and we’ve seen their tracks in the snow, but not them. It’s interesting that there have been so many mama and cub sightings,” Hoffman said.
More sightings all around
Matt Yamashita and other Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers spent Friday in Edwards where they found lots of “lion signs”: scat, tracks and more. They spoke with several homeowners, to schools and others, encouraging them to be aware.
Edwards is the epicenter of lion encounters right now, Yamashita said. There have been multiple sightings and photo submissions from the area.
“It points to lions becoming too comfortable around humans,” he said.
By speaking with the public, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is encouraging residents to be proactive instead of reactive, he said.
“If we can mitigate and prevent a conflict, that’s what we want to do,” Yamashita said.
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.