Edwards residents warned after 8-10 mountain lions seen roaming neighborhoods

Vail Daily staff report

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are alerting residents in the town of Edwards to be on the lookout for mountain lions. Thursday morning, officers received information from witnesses indicating between 8-10 mountain lions are roaming neighborhoods in the community, south of the Eagle River.

The warnings come on the heels of a flurry of lion activity in nearby Eagle and Minturn in the past several days, including sightings, the discovery of animal carcasses possibly related to lion activity and at least two attacks on dogs.

If anyone spots a lion within a residential area, call the Glenwood Springs CPW office at 970-947-2920 during business hours, Colorado State Patrol Dispatch after hours at 970-824-6501, or 911 in the event of an immediate emergency.

“We urge residents to be extremely cautious because lions are large, powerful predators and can be very dangerous if they’ve lost their natural fear of people,” said District Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita. “We are monitoring the situation very closely. If you live in Edwards and the surrounding area, we strongly recommend extra vigilance and advise you to report lion sightings or conflicts to CPW immediately.”

Lion activity has been a topic of headlines and conversation during early 2019. In January, CPW officials killed five mountain lions deemed a direct threat to human health and safety after the cats had attacked pets, sheltered under the deck of a home and approached people in a West Glenwood Springs neighborhood. In early February, a Larimer County trail runner successfully fought and killed a mountain lion after the cat attacked him. The young lion caused significant injuries to the runner before he overpowered it.

Yamashita says based on the reports he has received from Edwards residents, it appears there are two females in the area, each with a litter of 3 or 4 juvenile lions.

“The young lions are nearly full grown, as large or possibly larger than their mother,” said Yamashita. “It appears the female lions are teaching their young to hunt among a human populated area. Considering we are talking about nearly full-grown lions, this is not a sustainable situation. We will take the appropriate management action as necessary, but what the action will be remains to be seen and will be based on our assessment of public risk and the lion’s behavior going forward.”

CPW officials say once a predator has lost its natural fear of people, they can become a direct threat to human health and safety.

“This is a troubling situation and we are very concerned for the safety and welfare of the people in this area,” said Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke. “We ask everyone to take this warning seriously.

Romatzke says CPW has clear directives and policies in place the agency must follow when a wild animal is aggressive or conflicts with people.

“We will continue to monitor this situation and take the appropriate management action that is best for the public, and the lions,” he said. “Although moving the lions may be an option, it is important to have the proper perspective. We will not jeopardize the safety of people in other areas of the state, not to mention that a relocated lion may eventually die due to the stress of relocation or it may be killed by another lion in the area. That is a significant concern for us as well.”

Romatzke says the increase in lion sightings and conflicts is something CPW is monitoring closely.

“We have a growing human population and we have more lions than ever before in some areas of Colorado,” he said. “Our officers, researchers and biologists are studying this very closely. We are looking at our best options, based on science, biology and sound management practices.”

If You Live in Lion Country

To reduce the risk of problems with mountain lions on or near your property, we urge you to follow these simple precautions:

  • Call CPW immediately if you see a lion in your neighborhood
  • Make lots of noise if you come and go during the time mountain lions are most active: dusk to dawn.
  • Install outside lighting. Light areas where you walk so you could see a lion if one were present.
  • Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one.
  • Landscape or remove vegetation to eliminate hiding places for lions, especially around children’s play areas. Make it difficult for lions to approach unseen.
  • Planting non-native shrubs and plants that deer often prefer to eat encourages wildlife to come onto your property. Predators follow prey. Don’t feed any wildlife!
  • Keep your pet under control. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract lions. Bring pets in at night. If you leave your pet outside, keep it in a kennel with a secure top. Don’t feed pets outside; this can attract raccoons and other animals that are eaten by lions. Store all garbage securely.
  • Place livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night. Close doors to all outbuildings since inquisitive lions may go inside for a look.
  • Encourage your neighbors to follow these simple precautions. Prevention is far better than a possible lion confrontation.