ALAMOSA — An adult mountain lion was put down Thursday afternoon, May 20, by officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife after it was declared a “dangerous animal in a dangerous location.”
Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager in the Monte Vista CPW office, said the animal’s location next to Children’s Garden daycare center warranted putting it down. According to Alamosa Police Department officers on scene, the lion was seen in a tree adjacent to the daycare’s playground while youngsters were on recess.
No one could be reached at Children’s Garden to verify the time of day the large cat was spotted.
Basagoitia said the decision was made to shoot the cat rather than tranquilize it because typically mountain lions will fall or jump when shot with a tranquilizer and often will still attempt to run away which would have caused officers to have to dispatch it anyway.
The neighborhood on San Juan Avenue between 13th and 14th streets is a long distance from the Rio Grande giving officers pause as to why it was there. An abandoned irrigation ditch runs close by and some theorized that the lion may have followed the ditch to that location.
“The safest call was to put it down,” Basagoitia said. “If it had been anywhere else, we would have probably stationed an officer to watch it until it came down to make sure it left the area.”
The CPW official said mountain lions don’t typically attack humans unless they feel threatened. “They are amazing predators and are extremely efficient,” he said, “but don’t typically hunt humans for food.”
He went on to say that CPW policy states that if a lion is discovered in a dangerous location it is considered a dangerous lion.
Basagoitia said “liability is a big deal,” and CPW would have been responsible for anything that would have happened with the lion once officers intervened.
CPW officials estimated the male lion to be between three and four years old and weighed 104 pounds. The animal was skinned and the meat was donated.