Mountain lions thought to be attacking pets, livestock |

Mountain lions thought to be attacking pets, livestock

DENNIS WEBBgarfield county correspondent

SILT – Two dogs may be the latest victims of attacks by a mountain lion in the Silt area.A boxer and a blue heeler mix owned by Dan and Gretchen Wettlin in Mineota Estates south of Silt were found dead about two weeks ago, said their daughter, Eryn Thistle.She said neighbors discovered the killings on April 29 when they went to feed the dogs while her parents were out of town.”The neighbor came down and found the boxer with lacerations to the throat,” Thistle said.Before dying, the boxer had crawled into its doghouse, she said.The blue heeler mix was discovered in a roadside ditch, with its back broken.Thistle said her husband went up a nearby hillside and found possible lion den sites, as well as a lot of small and large lion prints.The Colorado Division of Wildlife reimbursed a rancher on the north end of Silt after a lion apparently killed two sheep a few months ago. A lion was seen on a bike path in town around that same time. Residents also think one killed a chicken and injured an old horse several weeks ago in the Panoramic Drive area of Silt Mesa.Thistle said Mineota Estates has had lion problems over the years, and one killed a dog there several years ago.”People say don’t hike there after dark,” she said.DOW spokesman Randy Hampton hadn’t heard of the latest report of attacks in the Silt area until he was contacted by a reporter. He said it’s hard for wildlife officers to respond to such incidents unless they are informed right away.The agency’s response to a lion problem depends on the situation. Sometimes officers just try to haze the animal back into more remote country, but if it has been aggressive they may kill it. Lion attacks on humans are extremely rare.Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said his department has taken no recent calls about encounters with lions, other than a report of a young lion being struck by a car between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. He said he believed the lion had to be put down.

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