by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — A resident of the 300 block of W. Third St. in Walsenburg Saturday opened the sliding glass door to her back porch to call her pet cat, but the animal that bounded out from under the porch was a young mountain lion.
The wild cougar, estimated at 75 pounds, jumped onto the porch and the resident, who wished not to be identified, quickly closed the door and called the Walsenburg Police Department.
The woman said this was not the first time mountain lions have been seen in the neighborhood. She said she believes there is a mother lion and two cubs, which considering their size, must be nearly one year old. In an interview with the HWJ this week, the woman said her neighbors had seen at least one of the animals before the Saturday evening encounter and had chased them away with shots from a BB or pellet gun.
At about 7:30 pm police were dispatched to the home and the woman said the lion was in her back yard. According to a statement released by the WPD, the mountain lion charged at officers and they shot and killed it. Police Chief James Chamberlain told the HWJ that it took multiple shots from an officer’s .40 pistol to bring the lion down. “The mountain lion was within 15-feet of the officers when it was shot,” Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain said another lion, larger than the one that was killed and presumedly the mother of the cub, was seen and shot at by police. Chamberlain said he believed the larger cat was hit several times but police have not been able to locate it. Chamberlain said the lion jumped the fence of the residence after being shot and ran away.
Colorado Division of Wildlife officers were called to the scene and personnel believe the mountain lion was approximately one and one-half years old. DOW officers found multiple sizes of mountain lion tracks in the same area as well as the bones of dead animals believed to be some of the neighborhood’s missing pets. The lion that was killed was collected and will be tested for any diseases. Wildlife officers set up a lion trap in the area and increased patrols of the area are being conducted by local police.
The press release said several reports had been received recently of mountain lions in the area of the water canal and one resident reported that he had been chased by a mountain lion.
No notice or warning of the presence of mountain lions inside of city limits was issued by the city until the incident Saturday.
The press release said another mountain lion had been reported in the area near John Mall High School, but that report was not made public until the press release was issued this week.
“In light of the aggression of this mountain lion, and presence of others in the area, be sure to closely monitor children playing outside as well as pets,” the press release said.
If you see a mountain lion close to homes or people call Huerfano County Emergency Services Dispatch Center at 738-1044 or 911 if the animal seems to pose an immediate threat to life.