Residents of the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield filed a report Friday with Colorado Parks and Wildlife that their dog had been killed by a mountain lion.
Amy McFarland and Brian Weaver, owners of the 11-year old boxer named Dude, said they let the canine out around 6 a.m. Thursday but that he did not return within a few minutes, as he normally would.
“When we found him, he was in a trench and of course there was blood and it was really dark and it got really emotional really fast,” Weaver said. “All we saw was some puncture wounds and trauma to his head.”
The couple initially suspected the dog had had an unfortunate encounter with a buck, which frequent the area.
The next morning, the couple discovered the “demolished” remains of a deer nearby, which led them to consider the possibility that a mountain lion had attacked Dude.
The veterinarian who examined Dude’s body checked with several other veterinarians in the area and told McFarland and Weaver that a mountain lion was responsible.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman John Livingston said mountain lions often stash kills, such as the remains of the deer found near the home.
“They’ll do what’s called ‘caching’ of that animal – they bury it around some snow or under some brush and they’ll keep an eye on that and keep coming back to feed on it over the course of a couple of days,” Livingston said. “Our understanding was that a recent kill by a mountain lion was cached in the area and the lion saw the dog and perceived it to be a threat to that food source.”
Livingston initially stated that Weaver told CPW officers that he had seen the mountain lion with its jaws around the dog. According to CPW’s final report, this was not the case.
“It didn't come from anybody who was directly involved with the investigation,” Livingston said. “It was more on our management side, so we'll go ahead and just own a breakdown in the communication tree.”
Livingston encouraged pet owners, especially those living in mountains and locations where deer reside, to look around for deer and predators before letting pets out. He said that dawn and dusk are prime feeding times for bobcats and mountain lions. He also reminded residents to avoid leaving out anything that might attract deer such as pet food, because predators will follow their prey.
CPW officers placed a trap in hopes of catching and relocating the mountain lion, but the agency had not captured the lion and removed the trap as of Tuesday evening.
Although it has not been reported to CPW, another post on Nextdoor said a cat in the Edgemont subdivision was killed by a bobcat.
“It’s important for folks to know that if there’s deer prevalent in your yard like we know there are in Forest Lakes and all around Durango and La Plata County, that’s the No. 1 prey source for a lion,” he said. “Where there’s deer, there’s going to be lions and this was just one of those unfortunate incidents for that dog.”
Weaver said they were installing motion-sensor activated lights around their house and now walk their other dog on a leash.
McFarland and Weaver described Dude as a loving and harmless dog.
“He's been bitten but he never bit,” Weaver said. “He wouldn't hurt a butterfly.”
This story has been updated with Brian Weaver’s account of events. Colorado Parks and Wildlife initially told the Herald that the dog’s owners had seen their pet in the mountain lion’s mouth. This false detail emerged from a miscommunication within CPW management and the article has been edited to reflect that. The article initially misstated the day and time that Dude was attacked.