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CPW begins hosting public meetings on East Slope mountain lion management

Mountain lion near Vail home
Posted at 11:39 AM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 14:39:34-05

DENVER — A series of public meetings will begin Thursday evening as Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) starts the process of drafting up an East Slope Mountain Lion Management Plan.

During each of the meetings, CPW officials will provide information about how mountain lions are researched and managed on the East Slope, plus how they interact with Colorado communities. Attendees are welcome to provide feedback, ask questions and voice their concerns. CPW said management of the animals on the East Slope is necessary to maintain the population's stability as development spreads across the state.

CPW begins hosting public meetings on East Slope mountain lion management

Thursday evening's meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Evergreen Fire Station, located at 1802 Bergen Parkway in Evergreen.

The other in-person meetings include:

  • Trinidad State College, Sullivan Center (600 Prospect St., Trinidad) — Feb. 23, 6 p.m.
  • Pathfinder Park Event Center (6655 State Highway 115, Florence) — Feb. 26, 6 p.m.
  • Jefferson County Open Space, Ponderosa Room (700 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden) — Feb. 26, 6 p.m.
  • Livermore Community Hall (2044 W. CR 74E, Livermore) — Feb. 27, 6 p.m.
  • Hillside Community Center (925 S. Institute St., Colorado Springs) — March 7, 6 p.m.

In addition, two virtual meetings are planned:

Currently, CPW is in the first stages of developing the East Slope Mountain Lion Management Plan. Members of the public will have more chances to speak at future meetings ahead of the final plan approval.

CPW already has a mountain lion management plan for the Western Slope, which was published in 2020. All of the organization's management plans provide "a science-based framework to coordinate strategies for maintaining healthy, resilient wildlife populations alongside demand for outdoor recreation opportunities," according to its website.

Joey Livingston, CPW's statewide public information officer, said the state has a decent level of mountain lion management.

"It requires taking a mountain lion-specific hunter education course to learn how to identify male versus female," he said. "We prefer hunters harvest male lions rather than females because females are more important to the stability of the population."

Areas have quotas systems and once a limit is reached, hunting of the animals is no longer permitted.

"Now in Colorado, hunters are required to take all edible portions of game meat, including mountain lion meat," Livingston continued. "And so hunters are required to take that out of the field and prepare for human consumption. Many hunters do like eating mountain lion. You know, there's not a ton of mountain lion hunters. It's not the most popular form of hunting in Colorado. But it is something that we allow and is an important management tool that we use for mountain lions."

Annual statewide mountain lion harvest has averaged 505 animals in the most recent three years, CPW said.

Mountain lions are elusive creatures, which makes population estimates difficult. Livingston said there are between 3,800 and 4,400 mountain lions in the state. They are not considered biologically threatened and there is no evidence that populations are decreasing due to harvests.

"But there are more people on the East Slope," Livingston said. "And we are seeing, you know, potentially more conflicts, or just more people that are aware of mountain lions in their backyard. A lot of people are getting outdoor cameras — Ring cameras, things like that. And so, you know, from the perception of the public, there could be more mountain lions because people are seeing them more with increases in technology."

Video: Ring camera captures mountain lion growling at front door in Vail

Thursday's meetings and the subsequent ones are the first steps toward making a management plan, Livingston said.

"If you have questions about mountain lion research or management, or have feelings about mountain lions in your area, come to these meetings," he said. "It's a great opportunity to voice your opinions, voice your concerns, and to have a conversation with the biologists that are managing these animals in your backyard."

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