Mountain lion kills five sheep

Animal trapped, euthanized day after attack near McElmo Canyon

The Colorado Division of Wildlife euthanized a mountain lion Thursday morning that killed five sheep off of County Road G.

The mountain lion got into an enclosed building Wednesday morning then killed the sheep. She was starting to eat one of the sheep before being scared off.

Jay Spinney, who lives close to McElmo Canyon, said the lion was a big animal and powerful enough to carry an 80-pound sheep.

After being notified of the situation, the Colorado Division of Wildlife came and set a trap for the animal, anticipating that it would return to the area where it had buried the remains of one of the sheep.

According to Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for the CDOW, a dead sheep was used as bait. CDOW officials caught the animal with the trap on Thursday, then euthanized it.

Spinney said he was surprised when he saw the mountain lion devouring one of his sheep and noticed there were another four sheep that had already been killed by the animal.

Spinney also said he was surprised his dogs remained silent as the lion attacked his sheep.

“I cannot believe my dogs did not go ape,” he said.

He said that he rushed into his house to get a gun with the intent to shoot the cat, but when he returned the lion was gone.

“He was a lucky cat today,” Spinney said on Wednesday.

Lewandowski said the mountain lion was an older 100-pound female. He said that when a predator kills livestock, the regulation required that the animal will be euthanized. He said it was very likely that the animal would go after other livestock or perhaps pets if allowed to remain in the wild.

“Lions will go back to their kill,” he said. “They go back to their prey. Mountain lions are being mountain lions.”

This was not Spinney’s first time seeing a mountain lion, but it was the first time he was adversely affected by one.

Spinney said he has seen several mountain lions in the area this year.

Lewandowski said mountain lions are not uncommon in the McElmo Canyon area, partly because of the number of deer in the location which provides them with a good food source.

He said there are things that can be done to protect livestock and pets from mountain lions.

He said pets and cattle should either be brought inside or, if possible, put into an enclosure because a mountain lion can easily scale a tall fence.

“They can take a five-to six-foot fence without any trouble,” he said. “Make sure they are protected. A little flimsy fence is not going to work.”

michaelm@cortezjournal.com