Authorities Say Young Cougar Roaming Southwest ‘Burbs

Wildlife Officials Think Juvenile Cougar Followed Highline Canal Into Neighborhoods

Wildlife officials suspect the same young mountain lion has been prowling the southwest metro suburbs the last two days.Police officers armed with assault rifles were dispatched in Littleton on Wednesday night after the lion was seen along Big Dry Creek near Belleview Avenue and South Broadway.But a wildlife official and police officers were unable to find the animal.

There were also several confirmed sightings of the mountain lion in urban neighborhoods on the Englewood-Denver border on Tuesday, police said. “We’re pretty sure it’s a young cat, because it’s a small cat,” Kathi Green, a Division of Wildlife spokeswoman, told TheDenverChannel.com Thursday.Wildlife officers attempted to shoot a tranquilizer dart at the cougar Tuesday afternoon near the Englewood-Denver border, but it escaped, she said. “Right now, it’s been able to stay hidden enough that we haven’t been able to take action,” she said.

Wildlife officers believe the juvenile cat probably followed the Highline Canal into the urban area. A couple of times a year, a mountain lion prowling the southwest metro area will roam into a neighborhood, she said. “They work their way into town on the river, on the creeks, on the canal,” Green said. “Sometimes they leave on their own. Sometimes we end up intervening.” “But it’s not that uncommon, especially if it’s a newly independent cat,” she said, adding that young lions are often searching for their first territory after separating from their mother.

Green said it’s too dangerous for DOW to use hounds to track mountain lions in a crowded urban area. “The city is a difficult place to run dogs,” Green said. “You don’t want to put a cat in a position of running from dogs in an area where they have to deal with fences, people, people’s pets and traffic. That’s really a bad idea.” So residents are urged to quickly call 911 if they spot a cougar, Green said. Police will summon wildlife officials who will attempt to tranquilize the cat if it stays put long enough.

The cougar’s big city ramblings has some residents on edge. “Well, it’s just always alarming. We live in the city. So you definitely don’t ever think that you’ll see a mountain lion in the city,” said Kelli Bowers, a resident near the Eisenhower recreation center in south Denver.She also showed 7NEWS a paw print that she thought could have come from a mountain lion, not her German short-haired pointer.”So, yes it concerns me a little, because we’ve been really careful with our dog since. And there’s a lot of little kids in this neighborhood,” Bowers said.

If people encounter a mountain lion, wildlife officials recommend: calmly and slowly backing away; do not run; raise your arms to appear larger; if the lion is aggressive, throw rocks or sticks; do not crouch or turn your back; if the lion attacks, fight back.They do not tend to attack people but are most active at sunrise and sunset, a DOW official said.

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