Several recent mountain lion sightings in and around Glenwood Springs, including one not long after dawn Wednesday, have police and area wildlife officials urging caution to prevent encounters with the large felines.
“We’ve had cats seen in multiple locations over the past three weeks, both during daylight and nighttime hours,” Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said.
The most recent sighting was around 7 a.m. Wednesday near the 12th Street Ditch Trail in the middle part of town.
“Someone reported that the cat was behind a house in the 1100 block of Pitkin (Avenue), headed uphill toward Colorado (Avenue_,” Wilson said.
A woman who was on the trail at the time also indicated that she had seen the cat going up the trail, he said.
Additional sightings have been in West Glenwood near Center Drive at the base of Mitchell Creek and on the other end of town along 23rd Street near Blake Avenue.
Recent deer kills on Garfield Avenue near the base of the Boy Scout Trail, along Park Avenue near Glenwood Springs High School and in the Red Mountain Drive area also are believed to be the work of mountain lions, Wilson said.
“The one we encountered in West Glenwood was pretty bold,” he said, noting that the cat returned even after Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies were called in to assist in pelting the cat with beanbags to try to get it to leave the area.
“It used to be that every time someone saw a bear, they’d freak out and call us or the division of wildlife, but now they’re more used to that,” Wilson said.
Mountain lions, on the other hand, “are a different critter.”
“They worry me in a different way, because if they decide a person or a pet looks like a good meal they can attack,” he said. “It’s just a good opportunity to remind people to be aware of their surroundings and be alert to the presence of mountain lions within city boundaries.”
Dan Cacho, district wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said mountain lion activity in and around populated areas is fairly common, especially during the early morning and late evening hours.
Easy-to-travel corridors to and from the river without busy street crossings, such as the 12th Street trail, are more likely to have cat activity, he said.
And, “Anywhere that there’s a good concentration of deer in Colorado you’re going to see mountain lions hanging around, because that is their prey of choice,” Cacho said.
Following the West Glenwood sighting, and especially after the cat returned despite the beanbag treatment, wildlife officials set up a trap but were unable to catch the animal, he said.
“After that kind of negative reinforcement, they’ll usually go away,” Cacho said. “This one had gotten into a family of raccoons and apparently found them to be good eating, so it was just hanging around.
“We definitely don’t want people to feel panicked by it, because they’re around more than people know,” he said. “We haven’t had any attacks (on humans) in this area since I’ve been here, but you just have to be aware.”