A mountain resident can expect any kind of weird joke to occur on April Fool’s Day, but Ridge Road resident Doug Cosper wasn’t expecting to find a mule deer carcass in front of his garage door. Being almost positive the fresh kill was the result of a mountain lion feast which was dragged a quarter mile down the driveway to the garage, Cosper called for assistance from a friend and they relocated the carcass to a safer place a couple miles away.
“Later that morning, when I should have been doing my income taxes, I looked out the window to see a German Shepherd-sized cat sniffing around where his lunch should have been. Then I saw another cat perched on a nearby rock, kind of holding court,” Cosper said.
The cats were mountain lion cubs, fairly large, but young enough to have a mama lion in the vicinity. The cubs hung out, hoping lunch would return, but after an hour they sauntered back into the woods.
When the cubs came back later in the afternoon, Cosper realized they were becoming accustomed to the area. “So I stepped out on the deck and shouted at them and waved my arms. They looked at each other as if to say, ‘who’s the clown?’ I threw a piece of firewood at them, missing one of them by inches, but, instead of flinching, the cub fetched the stick. I got the feeling that the mom told them to hang out here until she got back. I was pretty sure the cubs weren’t big enough to drag a deer carcass down the driveway by themselves.”
Cosper was right. In a while, the mom came along to pick up her kids. As large as Cosper thought the cubs were, they came only to the female lion’s shoulder.
“And if that wasn’t enough, a golden eagle watched the whole thing from the top of a nearby tree. It was kind of a surreal day,” said Cosper.
It is spring, school time for cubs. Mountain lions and their offspring have been seen all along the Front Range as the mothers begin to show their young ones how to hunt. It is an awesome experience for those lucky enough to see the lions, but it also involves a certain amount of danger and Division of Wildlife Officer Jennifer Churchill warns people to enjoy the sight but keep your distance.
Over the years, as the foothills became a residential and rural interface habitat, more and more lions have been sighted. Although humans are rarely attacked, pets have become an opportunistic prey. Lions will eat a dog or cat or goats or any domesticated animal.
Churchill suggests motion sensor lights and lots of loud noise if one sees a lurking lion. Do not make your property a comfortable place to be.
“Make sure the lion knows you are there and give them the chance to leave,” Churchill said.
The rule of thumb is SMART. Teach your children these letters.
Stop! Don’t move. Make yourself big. Announce yourself. Retreat. Back away.
Tell an adult.
Churchill said that Cosper did the right thing. If you come upon a lion kill in a residential area, remove it. Or call DOW, 303-291-7227 .
“Seeing a mountain lion is an exciting opportunity,” Churchill said, “but we want people to be safe. Observe from a distance. We don’t want the lions getting used to being near humans.”