Man and mountain lion are in the throes of a violent struggle for space at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. After a jogger was killed last month, some say the huge cats have "gone mad."
Others, however, maintain that's just how things are in the rugged West."We can't guarantee anyone's safety out there. There's a certain risk to living, and if you live in this part of the country, this has become a part of it," said Bob Davies, a Colorado Springs wildlife officer.
Recently, there have been mountain lion attacks reported in Montana, Colorado, California, Texas, Arizona, and even British Columbia in Canada. This past summer, wardens and scared residents killed at least four mountain lions in the region that threatened humans or attacked livestock.
Two fatal attacks in recent years have particularly frightened residents in the West. In all, fewer than a dozen fatal attacks have been documented in the United States and Canada in the past century.
In September 1989, 5-year-old Jake Gardipe was killed by a mountain lion while riding his tricycle in his front yard in the small, wooded town of Evaro in western Montana. The boy was dragged from the yard, and his body was found nearby several hours later.
On Jan. 14, Scott Dale Lancaster, 18, was attacked as he was jogging near his high school in Idaho Springs, west of Denver. Wildlife officials theorize the running may have triggered a "cat-and-mouse" response in the 3-year-old male cougar, which attacked from behind.
The cougar apparently killed Lancaster before he could defend himself. The lion, still in the area when the body was found, was shot and killed.
Not long thereafter, Colorado Springs police shot and killed a 151-pound mountain lion after it killed a dog chained to a porch.
In the weeks since Lancaster died, wildlife officials have spent long hours meeting with concerned people who live in the mountain foothills, which mountain lions also call home.