Reports of mountain lion alarm Silt residents
SILT – Some of Silt’s lions may meow rather than roar.Following mountain lion problems earlier this year, authorities have received a number sightings reports in the area, including one instance that caused Roy Moore Elementary School to cancel an outdoor recess period.But no recent evidence of actual lions has been found, and some of the sightings may have been of house cats, Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said.Still, he appreciates that people are alerting the DOW about possible lion sightings in inhabited areas. “We are responding, and we’re checking all calls and really would encourage people to keep calling us,” he said.The DOW reimbursed a sheep rancher on the north side of Silt after a lion apparently killed two sheep a few months ago. A lion reportedly was seen on a bike path in town around the same time.Residents think a lion killed a chicken and injured an old horse several weeks ago in the Panoramic Drive area of Silt Mesa and killed two dogs in Mineota Estates south of Silt on April 29.On May 15, an adult saw from a distance what looked like a lion sitting on a fence across the playground at Roy Moore, said the school’s principal, Lisa Whitmore.”I said, you know what, we’re going to be cautious, we’re going to bring these kids in, we won’t play outside for the day,” Whitmore said.She said Silt police and the DOW responded but couldn’t find tracks, scat or other evidence of a lion.Silt resident Eryn Thistle, whose parents lost the two dogs at Mineota Estates, questioned Whitmore’s decision to let children walk home after school that day. But Whitmore said by that time authorities had concluded there had been no lion in the area.Whitmore said authorities told her a big Siamese cat and big black cat may have been confused for lions in some of the Silt cases.Hampton said a mountain lion would be much bigger than a house cat and more the size of a large dog. The DOW’s website said adult females average 90 pounds and males 150 pounds. Lions tend to have coats that are tawny to light cinnamon in color, the DOW reports.Whitmore said no kids have said they didn’t want to go outside because of the possibility of lions in the area, but some parents have been concerned.She noted that the last day of school before summer vacation is Friday.”We only have a couple more days, so we’re probably OK,” she said.Whitmore said the school isn’t totally fenced in, but authorities told her a fence wouldn’t stop a lion anyway. They also told her that unless a lion is hurt it wouldn’t go near a lot of screaming kids on a playground, she said.”It’s hard to jump into the head of a cat and tell you what it’s going to do or not do,” Hampton said. “Certainly it would be out of the norm with a large group [for it to attack],” he said.Running, screaming kids could prove tempting to a lion, but an attack probably is more likely on a hiking trail than a playground, he said. Attacks on humans are extremely rare.The DOW recently has taken reports of possible lion sightings in Redstone as well as Silt.
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