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A town in Colorado has a big cat problem. According to The Colorado Sun, mountain lions recently killed 15 dogs in 30 days in and near the town of Nederland, which is 17 miles from Boulder, Colorado. Additionally, The Colorado Sun reports that mountain lions attacked 23 pet dogs between April 4 and December 9, 2022. Locals speculate that between one and five lions are responsible for the killing spree, though authorities have so far been unable to identify any specific lions.

“It’s gotten sort of out of hand and it needs to be addressed,” Nederland resident Peter James told the Denver Post. “It kind of feels like, is the community responsible for maintaining this kind of safety?”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is aware of the attacks and has twice set out traps in the area—to no avail. In part because of the prevalence of predator attacks on pets throughout the state, the wildlife management agency is limited in its ability to respond. “As morbid and messed up as it sounds, if we just have a dog getting attacked or killed and no human involvement, then it’s just lions doing lion things and we can’t kill them,” said Sam Peterson, CPW’s Area 2 Boulder South District wildlife manager, at a public meeting. “But if we were responding to every pet that was killed by wildlife with lethal removal, then we would be spending the majority of our time as officers doing that, and we would have to kill a lot of bears, lions, bobcats, and coyotes. Instead, I think the best solution is advocating for responsible pet ownership and being diligent with your pets when living or visiting areas where wildlife are likely to be.”

The attacks all took place in Game Management Unit 29, where there are approximately four mountain lions per 36 square miles. CPW typically offers two lion tags in GMU 29 each year, but none of those tags have been filled since 2005. Some locals have speculated on multiple potential causes for the recent spate of attacks, including nearby dam construction pushing cats out of their usual territory, chronic wasting disease impacting the area’s deer population, and a low early-winter snowpack. Regardless of the cause, some concerned residents have created a digital mountain lion encounter tracker.

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On Tuesday, December 29, a mountain lion was shot and killed south of Nederland. The lion was attacking a pet husky in a driveway. The husky survived without serious injuries. Soon, though, the lion attacked another dog at a home near the first attack. The dog’s owner shot and killed the big cat. Though it is illegal under state law to kill a mountain lion to protect a pet, CPW has decided not to press charges.

According to CPW, Colorado is home to between 3,000 and 7,000 mountain lions. The agency advises pet owners to “keep your pet under control. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract lions. Bring pets in at night. If you leave your pet outside, keep it in a kennel with a secure top. Don’t feed pets outside; This can attract raccoons and other animals that are eaten by lions.”

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