And now, mountain lions?
BRUSH CREEK In a summer when black bears are on Aspen’s collective mind (and in its backyards), residents of Brush Creek Village also have a mountain lion in their midst, according to state Division of Wildlife officials.”I had some sightings of a mountain lion at Brush Creek Village,” Aspen District Wildlife Manager Kevin Wright said. “A mountain lion killed a puppy there about a month ago, and I keep getting reports of a cat.””I believe I saw an alleged mountain lion,” said Brush Creek resident Jerry Scheinbaum. “He was down my driveway. After talking with DOW, we determined it was about a year old. He or she took one look at me and bolted.”But Scheinbaum said he got just a brief glimpse and couldn’t be 100 percent sure it was a mountain lion.Wright said some of the alleged mountain lion sightings near the subdivision in the hills above Highway 82 at Brush Creek Road might have been a small bobcat that a car recently struck and killed on Highway 82, but he reported seeing mountain lion tracks near the home of the dead puppy.And Wright said it was likely a mountain lion that killed a mule deer fawn in Snowmass Village.”I’m sure it’s the same cat just running that ridge from Highway 82,” Wright said, adding that the cat was in its habitat doing what cats do: following mule deer.”That’s normal activity,” Wright said.There was also a report of a mountain lion killing a cow at a ranch near Snowmass Creek, but there were no drag marks at the sight – a signature of a puma kill – and Wright couldn’t attribute the missing animal to a mountain lion.”People are building in mountain shrub which is primary habitat for deer,” Wright said, and the mountain lions are sure to follow, as are coyotes, owls and fox that can kill domestic animals.”We are aware that there is a lot of wildlife around, and there seem to be less rabbits this year than normal,” said Kevin McClure, manager of the 115 homes in the Brush Creek Metropolitan District.But while he’d spotted the smaller bobcat, he couldn’t confirm any mountain lion sightings.”Someone came around and posted mountain lion signs on our Dumpsters,” McClure said.And while Scheinbaum said that if he had small children, he would keep an eye on them, he’s not especially concerned.”This little animal is not sitting here stalking this household. The bears are an issue, though,” he said.”I have a 5-month-old puppy,” said Christy Hunter, who grew up in her family’s Brush Creek home. “We’re having to re-evaluate where we’re walking.” And the Hunters are careful to lock doors not just to keep bears out, but because of mountain lions, she said.”It is a concern, and I’m hoping to get more information about it,” Hunter said.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is email@example.com