Monday, September 18, 2006

Cougar suspected in home break-in; paw prints, fur found

By Julie Poppen, Rocky Mountain News
September 18, 2006

A University of Colorado sophomore returned from a camping trip Saturday to find mud, animal fur and broken glass in her garden-level bedroom.

Now, Boulder police and rangers with the city's Open Space and Mountain Parks Department are trying to determine whether a cougar intruder is to blame.

It would be the fourth mountain lion to be reported in a highly populated part of Boulder in recent weeks.

Some of the animal's light-colored fur was given to the Colorado Division of Wildlife for testing, Boulder police Sgt. Paul Reichenbach said.

One of the north Boulder home's other residents was sleeping about 9:30 a.m. Saturday when she heard a loud crash but assumed it came from a neighbor, the Daily Camera reported.

When the woman whose room was entered returned a few hours later, she found a mess.

Police said they know it was not a person who broke into the rental home.

"It was certainly small enough it wasn't a human," -Reichenbach said.

"There was nothing missing. There were muddy paw prints."

It could have been a raccoon or dog, but Reichenbach said it would be unusual for a smaller animal to break glass.

The last reported cat sighting occurred Thursday. Wildlife officials used a tranquilizer gun to capture a young mountain lion in a tree in a residential neighborhood.

That cat was released far west of Boulder on Friday.

A week ago, two women reported seeing a mountain lion near a busy downtown intersection. And, earlier this month, open space officials closed a hiking trail after a deer carcass was found.

Reichenbach said it's premature to panic. "I don't think anybody should take any sort of precautions," he said.

"The mountain lion sightings are usually right up against the hills. In that neighborhood, I've never even heard of one." article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5002035,00.html

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