Mountain lion shot near New Castle
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” A man shot and killed a mountain lion north of New Castle Tuesday night after the animal came too close to him and his wife, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the DOW, said the agency received a call about the shooting a little after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. It occurred on the Main Elk Road north of New Castle, he said.
The man and his wife were out for a walk in the area when the mountain lion came out of the brush and was in a “crouch position,” Hampton said. The couple’s names were not immediately available late Wednesday.
“(The mountain lion) began to approach them,” he said. “The husband was carrying a firearm, and he shot and killed the lion as it got really close.”
The animal was about 6 feet away from the couple when the man shot it, Hampton said. He added that the couple tried to scare the mountain lion away by screaming at it, but that the animal continued to approach.
The man said he had no other choice but to shoot the animal, Hampton said.
“He handled the interaction properly,” he said. “They were certainly scared from the incident.”
Neither the man nor his wife were injured, and no charges are expected to be filed, Hampton said.
Preliminary indications from an necropsy, the equivalent to a human autopsy, showed that the mountain lion was relatively sick, facing problems with both pneumonia and bronchitis, Hampton said. Its stomach and intestinal tract were both empty, which indicated that the animal hadn’t eaten for some time, he added.
The shooting comes after a mountain lion went through an open door into a house outside of Denver early Monday and snatched a Labrador retriever from a home where two people slept. Wildlife officials later trapped the 130-pound male cat using the dog’s dead body as bait and killed it with a rifle shot.
Colorado has an estimated 3,000 to 7,000 mountain lions. The Division of Wildlife is conducting studies in western Colorado and in the Boulder area, northwest of Denver, to get a better idea of the population’s size and behavior, according to the DOW.
Hampton said mountain lion attacks are extremely rare, noting that there are about three of them in the country every year.
“It is rare, but that doesn’t mean that it is something that can’t happen in western Colorado,” said Hampton, adding the area has good mountain lion habitat.
There have been a number of mountain lion incidents in the region. Some of those incidents include a mountain lion that attacked a young colt in July 2007 near Silt.
The colt suffered injuries but later recovered. In February of 2007, a wildlife officer shot and killed a mountain lion west of New Castle after a motorist had hit the animal on Highway 6. In late October 2006, a small and emaciated mountain lion was killed near Canyon Creek just off of Highway 6. That animal killed a dog and was believed to be the same one that was seen in West Glenwood early that fall.
If confronting a mountain lion, make a lot of noise, try to be as “large as you can,” and throw sticks and rocks at the animal, Hampton said.
“The bottom line is that if you are attacked, fight back,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117