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Thursday December 12th 2019

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That's what she said

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Mountain Lions in Our Neighborhoods


By

from CDOW (http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/MountainLion/)

A 2-year-old female lion was in my back yard yesterday morning, in the heart of north Boulder.  I called animal control around 10:20 a.m. and then sent a neighborhood alert.  The dispatcher asked me where she was and in what direction was she headed and when had I last seen her.  The sheriff’s department, the Colorado Department of Wildlife (CDOW), and animal control were already tracking her–I was impressed.

My neighborhood is very low density with lots from ⅓ to 1½ acres in size—she was napping in the large yard behind my house.  Yes, we have a herd of deer in our neighborhood that we all love (one of the reasons we live here) and one was caught by this lioness.  She had come from the street to the north (Emerald) where she had caught and cached her deer and came to nap behind my house.  She was napping behind a large (~8′ high x 30′ in diameter) “screen” of wood debris that one neighbor to the north has created over the past 2 decades and which has been extended by his neighbor to the east to a lesser extent.  The neighbor to the east has created a “little preserve” where at times she houses and feeds fox.  My backyard is a wildlife corridor for deer, fox, lions, raccoons, bear, rodents, owls, hawks, birds of all types — it is the Wonderland Creek riparian corridor and they have been here at least since I moved here in 1986.  I believe we as residents living along this corridor and in similar wildlife environs need to do a much better job at not creating unnatural situations.

Lisa's lion

My next-door neighbor to the west and his 6-year-old son saw her earlier in the morning in the yard of our neighbor to the south.

My 2 dogs (a 75-pound hound and a 22-pound rocket dog) were in the backyard with no incident.  My son saw the lioness, brought the larger dog in my house while the rocket dog came to my detached office where I was working.  My son came to my office to tell me of the lioness  and we witnessed this beautiful animal just lying behind the screen.  She fit well into the landscape and was difficult to recognize initially. She eventually stood up, stretched, slinked over the screen, gracefully jumped over a barbed-wire fence in disrepair, and landed in my yard along Wonderland Creek, which is dry right now.  She crossed the creek bed and came up the terrace onto my flagstone patio.  She came into my courtyard between my house and office, looked in my front yard, then went back behind my house paralleling the back along the patio, came south along the east side of my house along the 3′-high adobe wall, went through a small slot and out onto Poplar and toward the large playing fields of Centennial Middle School.  She then spent most of the afternoon napping under a trailer at 21st and Oak (2 blocks to the south of Poplar Ave.).  She has a green radio collar on and CDOW and animal control were able to track her movements.  Yesterday afternoon CDOW and animal control tried to tranquilize her but she then moved back to Poplar (about 5 houses west from me) where she was tranquilized and contained.  She was moved around 4:45 pm.  My understanding is that she has been taken to the foothills northwest of Golden in Jefferson County.  My understanding in speaking with various staff is that she probably came from the foothills around Pinebrook Hills then along Linden, and up to Githens Acres (home of the gem streets and Emerald).  She probably was heading east along the creek corridors of Wonderland and Four-Mile-Canyon (a couple blocks to the north of Wonderland) Creeks and trying to get back out onto open space.  I think she caught her deer the previous night.

As Trish English spoke to Council on Tuesday night when we were discussing this very issue of wildlife, particularly bear and mountain lions, she emphasized how important it is to maintain a yard that does not have water features (my understanding is that the home on Emerald where the lioness caught and cached her deer has 2 water features), screens for protection from detection, or food sources for lions.  Trish lives along our open space-mountain backdrop urban interface.  I hope we can look at better ways to educate residents about maintaining non-attractant conditions in individuals’ yards.

I felt awed to have been able to witness this majestic animal so close but very protected in the confines of my office.

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