Search called off for African lion in El Paso County
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Authorities called off a search for an African lion reportedly seen in eastern El Paso County on Monday unsure if there really ever was a big cat roaming the plains.
Search dogs failed to find a scent for a lion in the area 15 miles east of Colorado Spring and wildlife officials couldn’t agree on whether grainy photos taken of the animal showed a lion or a big dog, El Paso County sheriff’s spokeswoman Lt. Lari Sevene said.
“It’s about 50-50,” Sevene said of the experts’ opinions.
Adding to the mystery were tracks found in a dirt roadway that looked like they could belong to a lion and tracks nearby that looked more like a dog’s, Sevene said. An officer took photos of the tracks but they were soon erased by tire tracks.
Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Michael Seraphin said the four Colorado wildlife sanctuaries that are permitted to have lions, including the nearby Big Cats of Serenity Springs, all said their lions are accounted for.
Sevene said the lion was first reported at about 8 a.m. by a resident who said the cat had a red mane and a big tail. About an hour later, someone else spotted the lion and was able to take photos of the animal.
After authorities made reverse 911 calls to nearby residents, Seraphin said a 17-year-old called to report that he had seen what looked to be a lion near his house.
Experts from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs and a police helicopter were brought in to help the search in the area dotted with ranches and a mobile home park. Seraphin said three residents also got on horseback, lassos drawn, and helped look for the lion in a field where much of the search was focused.
Sevene said authorities couldn’t justify continuing the search, but added that residents should stay on the look out for anything suspicious. She said even finding out that it was all a mistake would have been a better ending to the search.
“I would rather have either found a dog, or found a lion. We hate to leave it up in the air,” she said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Bluebird skies, spring-like temperatures and a few inches of snow from Monday night’s storm helped Snowmass skiers and snowboarders cruise into the season Wednesday for opening day.