More mountain lion trouble near New Castle
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
NEW CASTLE, Colo. ” Colorado Division of Wildlife officers shot and killed a 2-year-old male mountain lion north of New Castle Thursday morning after reports that the lion killed an East Elk Creek resident’s horse.
According to DOW spokesman Randy Hampton, the division was contacted on Wednesday, August 27, by the resident after the horse had been killed. DOW officers arrived on the scene shortly after and found the horse carcass and made arrangements to return Thursday morning to see if the lion would return.
“Mountain lions, after they kill and feed, they will return to wherever they stashed or cached the carcass,” Hampton said. “They bury it and hide it and will return to feed on it again.”
Thursday morning, as suspected, the young mountain lion returned and was put down by the DOW officers. Assisting the DOW was the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, a federal department that provides expertise and services when conflicts arise between wildlife and livestock. According to Hampton, the USDA brought in some tracking hounds to aid in the search for the lion if needed.
Further information was unavailable through the DOW Friday.
This incident comes less than one month after a New Castle man shot and killed a mountain lion on Main Elk Creek Road located just to the west of East Elk Creek, on Aug. 5. In that incident the man shot the lion after the animal approached the man and his wife who were out walking in the evening.
A necropsy, an autopsy on an animal, found that that particular mountain lion was suffering from both pneumonia and bronchitis, according to Hampton, which could have contributed to the animal’s behavior. But that was not the case in the recent incident.
“It was a healthy 2-year-old cat,” Hampton said. “Young males are looking for a territory of their own and are usually the ones that we find ourselves dealing with. It’s usually because they are dispersing.”
In July 2007, a colt was attacked by a mountain lion near Silt but later recovered from its injuries. Several other incidents involving mountain lions have occurred in the area, according to Hampton.
“The DOW deals with incidents like (the one this week) on a fairly regular basis,” Hampton said. “It’s more rare to hear about them in the newspaper than it is for us to respond to them.”
Hampton indicated that hunting unit 33, which encompasses the area north of New Castle, Silt and Rifle, has the second highest mountain lion harvest for the state. In 2006, 18 mountain lions were harvested in unit 33 alone. The area with the highest harvest is just north of unit 33 ” unit 23, with 19 lions harvested in 2006.
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Don’t freak out if you see helicopters hovering over the Roaring Fork Valley backcountry or fixed-wing aircraft making repeated trips. It is part an annual wildlife study by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.