18 April 2006

Mountain Lion attack in Boulder

Last weekend, a mountain lion attacked a 7 year old boy on Flagstaff Mountain. The boy was holding hands with his father. Read about it here and here.

The Daily Camera seems to think "it is not cause for alarm" per this editorial. (The full editorial is password protected - use mail address: bob@bob.com / password: bob, courtesy of BugMeNot). Here's the first paragraph of today's editorial:
The fact that a 7-year-old boy was attacked by a mountain lion in the Boulder foothills is saddening and distressing. But it is not cause for alarm. Nor is it a reason to slaughter these animals. Unfortunately, some local residents seem unable to draw such distinctions.
I believe people don't want to slaughter the lions. People just want the lions to go away. The issue is reducing the lion's need to dwell in the human/ animal interface. I've been thinking about a couple of points.
  1. Deer are a lion's natural food.
  2. Lions are equal opportunity predators. If easy prey, like pets or kids, are available, the lions will kill and eat those too.
My thoughts on these ...

1. Boulder has way too many deer. They are protected. Deer have no natural predators except the lions. The lions are drawn in to feed on the deer. Everyone thinks they, and their kids, are safe in town but this video of a lion in Boulder proves this thought wrong.
Pretty obvious stuff but what to do about it?
I think culling the deer drastically to their natural population density would help dramatically. Easy enough said but people love deer. I see them all the time on my property in the low foothills. I enjoy watching them but I'd rather see less of them ... and not worry so much about my daughter being under constant supervision outside.

2. In addition to above, another idea is to push people to keep their pets inside in the mornings, late afternoons and night. Foothill dwellers are accustomed to pets disappearing due to lions. Town folk probably don't attribute pet disappearance to lions but I expect it's pretty common. A friend in Fort Collins said they did a study there. Lions were tagged and tracked. At night the lions would come down into the 'burbs. I'd guess pets were a good portion of the lion's diet.

What are my credentials to talk about the above? I'm a concerned citizen but by no means an expert. I have close contact with lions at my home. See this and this. I've been face to face with a lion at 15 feet. The lion killed our cat. It was the most savage thing I've ever seen. (I'll write this incident up later this week.)

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