Mountain lion shot after killing dog
Steamboat Springs — Maison was a sweet, crazy, lovable and protective dog for the Kortas family of Steamboat Springs.
A mountain lion changed all that when it attacked the 4-year-old Jack Russell Terrier in an unusual case of a lion killing a domesticated animal in Steamboat.
“I can’t ever remember this happening here in my tenure, which is 36 years,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins said.
Andrea Kortas said she and her 14-year-old daughter, Parker, got home from the movies about 6:15 p.m. Sunday and let Maison out. About an hour later, they realized no one had let Maison back inside, and they began searching for about 90 minutes. For a while, they dug through the deep snow thinking Maison got stuck.
Parker did one last loop around the house and spotted dog fur under their home in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Parker then laid on her stomach to get a closer look.
“When she shined her light under there, she caught the eyes of a mountain lion,” Kortas said.
Wildlife officer Andrea Sponseller responded and also found the lion under the house, where Maison’s carcass would later be recovered. For the safety of the officers in sub-zero temperatures, they left the lion alone for the night.
“They were professional and helpful,” Kortas said.
The next morning, the lion was still under the house, which concerned Haskins.
“At that point, I made the decision that we’re going to euthanize the animal,” Haskins said.
While trying to tranquilize the lion, it took off, and Kortas took pictures of it running over a hill toward a playhouse on the property.
“When this cat was moving, you didn’t even see it,” Haskins said.
Wildlife officers found it underneath the playhouse, but the animal took off again through the woods toward Emerald Mountain.
“It was a real weird situation having to get that close to the lion,” Haskins said.
The decision was made to hunt the animal, which is typically done with the aid of dogs. Parks and Wildlife enlisted the help of a Hayden resident who has experience tracking lions without dogs.
After discovering the lion had not crossed a cross-country ski trail above the home, the hunter from Hayden whacked his way through the brush and shot the lion.
“At the end of the day, I am glad they did it,” Kortas said.
Haskins said deep snow is not forcing lions into the valley, and the lion likely just found an opportunity to have a meal. Despite human activity in the area, Haskins said he thought the young male lion probably did not want to come out from underneath the house and abandon the carcass.
Haskins said lions follow the prey, and hunt deer and elk when the snow is deep.
“This has just never been an issue here, and I don’t expect it to happen for a long time,” Haskins said.
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