A man walking his dog could do nothing but watch helplessly as a mountain lion snatched the dachshund from its leash and ran off with it.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Michael Seraphin confirmed Tuesday that the mountain lion has been euthanized. The remains of the dog were found during a necropsy of the mountain lion.
Seraphin says the incident happened in a neighborhood off Star Ranch Road, which is near the Broadmoor, five days ago.
It's just one of several close encounters to occur in or very near Colorado Springs city limits over the last few months. Parks and Wildlife officials have had more than 30 calls regarding mountain lion sightings in recent weeks--with eight from the 80906 zip code, where the attack on the dog took place.
Some of the encounters have been far too close for comfort. In January, a family in the Peregrine neighborhood in northwest Colorado Springs watched from their windows as a mountain lion ate a deer in their front yard.
One month earlier, two runners encountered a mountain lion within 20 minutes of each other at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. The mountain lion exhibited aggressive behavior towards one of the runners.
Seraphin says there have been more sightings than usual this year, but says it may not necessarily be because there are more mountain lions in the area; there is also the possibility that people are being more vigilant about reporting sightings.
Even so, Colorado Parks and Wildlife says the chances of seeing a mountain lion in the wild, much less having an up-close encounter with one, are slim.
“The chances of you even seeing a mountain lion are highly unlikely,” Colorado Springs Area Wildlife Manager Cory Chick said in a statement. “So the chances of being attacked are even lower. But people still need to be aware that lions live among us.”
The odds of seeing a mountain lion are greatest in the foothills, Seraphin said, and less likely as one gets closer to the eastern plains. Most mountain lions try to conceal their presence from humans, which was what was Seraphin said was so unusual about the incident last week.
"Once a mountain lion discovers you're aware of its presence, it wouldn't want you to know where it is. This one didn't care."
Wildlife officials were able to lure the mountain lion into a trap after last week's attack, which Seraphin said does not always happen but worked this time.
Officials are now awaiting a toxicology report that could tell them if the animal was suffering from rabies or another disease.
If you ever do encounter a mountain lion, Parks and Wildlife offers the following tips:
• If you see a lion, do not approach it. Stay calm and stand upright. Talk loudly and firmly at the lion and back away slowly. Do not turn your back.
• Do not run: Some experts believe that running can trigger a predator instinct in mountain lions; the lion will react to you the same way it reacts to a fleeing deer or elk.
• Do all you can to appear larger: raise your arms and hold your jacket or shirt open wide.
• Mountain lions tend to avoid people and rarely attack unless cornered. A cougar that is about to attack may have ears held back, snarl or growl, or twitch its tail.
• If the lion appears aggressive, throw stones, branches, your backpack or anything that is handy.
• If attacked, fight for your life. Use any weapon and advantage available such as rocks, binoculars or flashlight. Direct your defense to vulnerable areas such as eyes, inner nose and ears, ribs and abdomen.
• Stay in groups when hiking, cycling or running in lion country. Do not let small children hike or play alone.
• Make enough noise when hiking, cycling or running that you do not get too close without them hearing you coming. Lions that hear you coming will leave an area before you get there.
• If you find a dead animal on or near your property, have it removed promptly. Mountain lions often cover dead animals with leaves or dirt and return later to feed.
• Keep yards and residences well-lit at night.
• Remove plant shrubs next to your home where mountain lions can hide.
• Keep dogs and other pets inside. If you keep dogs in a kennel, be sure it is enclosed with a screen on top. Dogs have been trapped and attacked inside their own open-top kennels.
• Take proactive measures to secure fencing for chickens, goats and other farm animals.
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