EVERGREEN, Colo. — An emaciated mountain lion had to be euthanized this week after it killed a dog in Evergreen, but authorities said the killing wasn’t what warranted its death. It was the bleak condition of the wild animal.
On Monday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife received a call from a person who said a mountain lion had attacked a dog in Evergreen. A CPW wildlife officer responded and talked with the pet owner, who said he was outside with his dog, which was off-leash, so it could go the bathroom, said Jason Clay with CPW.
The dog ran around a corner of the house and the owner said he heard what sounded like the dog had fallen and yelped. When the man walked around to see what had happened, he saw that a mountain lion had jumped on top of the dog, which had died.
Wildlife officers located the mountain lion not long after the incident. A crowd had gathered nearby to watch it, Clay said. Two of the officers were able to tranquilize the animal and take it to one of the CPW facilities near Fairplay to examine it and discuss what to do next — relocate it, take it to a rehab center or euthanize it.
Ultimately, CPW staff decided euthanasia was the best option, based on the mountain lion’s condition and emaciation.
Clay said the animal was not put down because it had killed a dog, as that action by itself doesn’t warrant euthanasia. A veterinarian said it would be in the mountain lion’s best interests to put it down.
"Given its condition, they said it likely would not survive the winter," he said.
He said CPW wildlife officials don't like to see animals put down, as they work hard to save many species of animals each year.
"But it is not always the case where everyone can be saved or relocated or taken to a rehabilitation facility," he said.
He said the vets will perform a necropsy to see if they can learn anything more about its condition, and hope to release those findings Wednesday. The area where the mountain lion was found has tons of prey options, Clay said, and mountain lions can take down deer, elk and moose, or smaller animals like raccoons. There is not a shortage of prey in the area where the animal was found, he said. The necropsy may provide an answer as to why the mountain lion wasn’t successful in its hunts.
“It is a tough situation and mountain lions — all wildlife for that matter — lead tough lives in tough conditions,” he said. “We wish every wildlife story had a happy ending, but that just is not the case.”
To learn more on mountain lions in Colorado, visit CPW's website.