September 1, 2008

Mountain Lion Sightings Prompt Study

Increased mountain lion sightings in Colorado have prompted a study intended to minimize risks when humans impinge on the big cats' turf, state officials say.

State Department of Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said as the urban landscape in Colorado continues to push into what used to be wilderness areas, the typically reclusive big cats have begun venturing among humans, The Denver Post reported Monday.

"We really don't have a wilderness in Colorado any more," Churchill said. "It's impossible to tell people, 'You can go here, and you won't have a problem.'"

The state study comes a month after a mountain lion was killed in Idledale after grabbing a dog from its home. That incident occurred after a couple in New Castle shot and killed an aggressive mountain lion they encountered.

Boulder County wildlife specialist Dave Hoerath said the study will look at how best to limit human-mountain lion interactions in the future.

"This is the first large-scale, urban-suburban, human-mountain lion interaction study," Hoerath told the Post. "Most are done in more remote places."