FORT MORGAN, Colo. — On Tuesday evening, as storms moved in, authorities found a mountain lion up a tree in a cemetery a block from town.
At 5:31 p.m. Tuesday, a resident called the Fort Morgan Police Department to let them know they had spotted what they thought was a bobcat in their backyard, said Cmdr. Loren Sharp with the police department.
“Our officers went over there and called the Division of Wildlife and they found footprints in the alley that were consistent with what they thought was a mountain lion,” he said.
Officers and Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff searched the area and found the animal up a tree in the middle of a cemetery. It was about a block from where it was first spotted.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife representatives focused on tranquilizing the animal while police worked to make sure it wouldn’t run toward town if it jumped out of the tree. One street was blocked off, Sharp said.
The mountain lion was in a partially protected spot in the tree, so tranquilizing the big cat was a challenge, he said. As storms started to roll in Tuesday evening, the group decided to leave the situation alone to see if the animal would retreat back to the river by itself.
“The determination was made that we were probably more of a danger to try to get the cat out of the tree at that point then letting him return on his own,” he said. “Not only the weather, but then we had a lot of people trying to sit around and watch. There was more concern if he did come out and he was afraid, where was he going to go?”
The mountain lion had left the area as of 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.
Mountain lions are very rare in Fort Morgan, Sharp said, though they do live near the South Platte River, which runs on the north side of the city. They usually do not come near the community though, he said.
“I, myself, have spotted one many years ago late at night,” he said. “Maybe 20 years ago, in about the same area by a dumpster, but it ran out of town when it saw us.”
Mountain lions are typically calm, quiet and elusive, according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. They live in remote and primitive areas and rarely attack humans. If you encounter one in the wild, do not approach it, say calm, back away slowly and do everything you can to appear large, according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. If it attacks, fight back, since they can lose interest by prey if it puts up a fight. To learn more about mountain lions in Colorado, click here.