Officials not overly worried
Mountain lions have appeared locally once again. A recent rash of sightings in Mt. Crested Butte has excited residents, but officials say it’s nothing to be alarmed about.
Mt. Crested Butte resident Anthony Garcia reported to the state Department of Wildlife (DOW) last week that he had seen a mountain lion twice in the past two weeks near his home on the 100 block of Anthracite Drive. He spotted the lion each time around 5 p.m., according to Mt. Crested Butte police officer Nate Stepanek.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) security manager Charles Powell also reported a mountain lion sighting in the Elevation Hotel parking garage around 1:30 a.m. last week.
The lion is most likely in the area because of a large deer herd bedding down near the Gold Link Lift on the mountain, Stepanek says. He doesn’t believe there is any reason for concern.
“It’s just a mountain lion being a mountain lion, and being active during times he’s supposed to be active,” Stepanek noted. “We don’t plan to take any precautions, unless it becomes a problem.”
DOW wildlife manager J Wenum agrees and says the department has not observed aggressive or unusual behavior from the lion. Wenum also says it is uncertain if the lion is the same lion reported near Crested Butte earlier this summer. The Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust closed portions of the Lower Loop trail in June because of mountain lion activity.
“We strongly suspect if the deer migrate out of the area, the lion will follow with them,” Wenum says.
That’s sad news for Mt. Crested Butte resident Dalynn Trujillo, who recently reported lion prints in her yard as well. Trujillo lives on Aspen Lane just down the road from the sightings.
“We didn’t see it, but we would have loved to,” Trujillo says.
According to the DOW, mountain lion sightings are rare, as the projected population of mountain lions in Colorado is between 3,000 and 5,000. However, Wenum explains, there are sightings when humans recreate in natural settings. He recommends Mt. Crested Butte residents “exercise caution” when outside at dusk and dawn.
“Make yourself known in the area,” Wenum says. “A vast majority of animals are going to flee when humans are in the area.”
Wenum also says if a lion is spotted, do not approach it, as this may trigger the lion’s natural predatory instinct; instead, he says, the appropriate action is to stay calm and back away. “Don’t crowd them. They are very much like people, and they like their personal space,” Wenum says.
The DOW also recommends residents exercise caution with their children and pets, and says residents should not feed pets outside since the food can attract raccoons, skunks, and deer—a lion’s food source. Residents should also supervise children when they play outdoors, especially around dawn and dusk when lions are most active.
Stepanek says residents should continue to report sightings to the Mt. Crested Butte police department.