A security camera detected a prowler armed with massive canine teeth and sharp claws early Friday morning in a parking lot near the REI Denver Flagship store at Confluence Park.
A mountain lion was caught on video there about 1 a.m. on June 24, according to Jason Clay, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“It can be surprising to some people in urban areas, but it’s not that uncommon for mountain lions to come in,” Clay said. “Where it was by that REI, it likely traveled in following the South Platte River. It probably happens a lot more than we know about. If there wasn’t security camera footage, no one would ever have known about it.”
On Friday about 9 p.m., there was another report of a cougar in the city, this one about half a block south of Interstate 70 near Pecos Street on West Elk Place. CPW doesn’t know if it was the same cat sighted near REI.
Wildlife officers assisted by Denver Animal Control and Denver police responded, assessed the situation and decided they wouldn’t be able to relocate the animal safely.
“It wasn’t the right set of circumstances, so they let it be,” Clay said. “It was just out of safety for the mountain lion and the people who responded.
“It was up in a tree, where it could have gone up even higher in the tree,” he continued. “When you tranquilize an animal, it very possibly could fall out. There were also power lines in the way. Being so late at night, the possibility could exist where if you got a tranquilizer dart in the lion, and it came down before it was sedated, it could run off and you lose it.”
There were other mountain lion sightings that same day in nearby parts of the city, according to people who reported them on Twitter. (Watch a video here.)
CPW asks the public to report mountain lion sightings promptly so wildlife officers can respond and relocate the animal if deemed appropriate.
“It could be a case where we don’t get another report on this lion and it makes its way out of the area on its own, or it could be we get more reports and a chance to respond,” Clay said. “We’ll see how it plays out. Mountain lions in general are most active at night, and that’s why they go undetected so often.”
There are an estimated 4,000 to 5,500 mountain lions in Colorado, according to a CPW brochure entitled Living with Lions.
“Mountain lions in Colorado are usually tawny to light cinnamon in color with black-tipped ears and tail,” the CPW brochure says. “They vary in size and weight, with males being larger than females. Adult males may be more than 8 feet in length and weigh an average of 150 pounds. Adult females may be up to seven feet long and weigh an average of 90 pounds. Mountain lions are easily distinguished from other wild cat species in Colorado. Lions are much larger than lynx or bobcats and have a long tail, which may measure one-third of their total length.”
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