Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New Mexico deputies kill young mountain lion

By Wendy Brown | The New Mexican
September 20, 2006

A Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a mountain lion near N.M. 14 around midnight Tuesday after it looked at the deputy, stood up and appeared as though it was about to leave the area.

Sheriff’s Department Major Ron Madrid says the mountain lion had killed a feral cat in the area of County Road 44 and took it to a backyard on Oak Street, which is near N.M. 14 south of Santa Fe.

A dog cornered the mountain lion in a tree, and the people who live in the home called the Sheriff’s Department and the state Game and Fish Department.

Sheriff’s deputies were closer than Game and Fish officers, so they responded sooner. Game and Fish officers have a huge amount of territory to cover so it took that agency longer to respond, says Madrid.

Four sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene and watched the mountain lion to make sure it didn’t escape. The mountain lion did descend from the tree but stayed in the yard.

After about an hour, the mountain lion looked at a deputy and stood up as though it was about to leave. That’s when the deputy shot the mountain lion, according to Madrid.

The deputy was concerned that if the lion left the backyard, it would be difficult to shoot and that it would escape and possibly hurt children in the area, Madrid said.

Madrid confirmed this morning that the mountain lion was on the ground when the deputy shot it. Game and Fish arrived at the scene soon after the deputy shot the mountain lion, he said, and they took possession of the mountain lion’s body.

Dan Williams, spokesman for the state Game and Fish Department, said the mountain lion a young male between 18 and 20 months old. “That’s about the time their mothers kick them out,” he said.

It weighed 40 pounds and its tail was 20 inches long, Williams said.

Game and Fish officers are unsure whether the mountain lion is the same mountain lion that has killed pets in Santa Fe recently, Williams said.

The Oak Street location is about nine miles from where people reported seeing a mountain lion in Santa Fe. Williams says it is possible that it is the same animal, he said, but there’s no way to be sure.

It is also possible that the mountain lion was a litter mate of the mountain lion seen in Santa Fe, Williams says. They either could have lost their mother in an accident or she could have sent them out to fend for themselves, he said.

Williams says that if people see a mountain lion, it is important not to run and to make yourself seem as large as possible. “If you holler at them and make a show, they usually leave,” he said.

It is also important to pick small children off the ground and make sure they don’t run, Williams says.

He added that mountain lions are attracted to pets so it is a good idea to keep your pets inside at night. “Don’t give them easy prey that makes them want to come around,” he said.

Contact Wendy Brown at 986-3072 or

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