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Mountain lions showing up in urban areas

6:36 PM, Apr 12, 2010   |    comments
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A new study from the Colorado Division of Wildlife might shed some light on why we are seeing the animals come closer to town.

Deb Ellingson ran into a mountain lion while walking up the Dakota Ridge Trail last year. It's about a half a mile away from Iris Avenue in Boulder.

"No Mountain Lion today!" she joked. "But there was a rattlesnake around this corner a summer ago!"

The Colorado Division of Wildlife says there are somewhere between 4,500 and 5,500 mountain lions in our state. The DOW is working on a Front Range Mountain Lion study to figure out the exact population and where the animals like to live.

"Like most wildlife, they'll actually move through the drainage areas and green belts that we have in towns," Jennifer Churchill, with the DOW, said.

Since the Division of Wildlife started its study three years ago, it has discovered a number of mountain lions passing through more urban areas. The DOW placed tracking collars on a couple dozen of them.

"It's important to track them on a monthly basis," Churchill said.

The study also found that Mountain Lions aren't necessarily going after small pets, like cats and dogs when they enter neighborhoods. They tend to prefer deer and elk. But there are rare instances when they do feed on pets.

"I've never seen one," Barbara Roach, who lives on Iris Avenue in Boulder, said.

Even though Roach has never encountered a mountain lion, her neighbor across the street came face to face with one last year. Her neighbor's dog was killed by one.

"The dog made a lot of barking," Roach said. "Headed for the corner of the yard. The Mountain Lion leaped over the fence, got the dog and killed it".

That mountain lion was not being tracked by the Division of Wildlife. The DOW started tracking 44 mountain lions when its study began. The study also found the cats aren't living too long.

"About 18 of them are still in the study," Churchill said. "We see a lot of road kill".

The Division of Wildlife is only half way through its study. It will be complete in 2013.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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