Mtn. Lion Struck Near Hotchkiss, Colorado State Patrol Fails To Report It To Parks & Wildlife
Colorado State Patrol has a failed to report a vehicle hitting a mountain lion near Hotchkiss on Sunday to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
A mountain lion was reportedly hit by an SUV outside of Hotchkiss on Sunday.
Kathy Linnell, a Paonia resident, said she struck the cat on Highway 92.
“We were coming down off Rodger’s Mesa and right at the corner on the top of the hill going into Hotchkiss where the county barn is a mountain lion came running out from the barn," Linnell said. "It was about probably 9:30 at night. I just remember seeing this real blonde hair and I though that’s awful blonde for a deer. I slammed on brakes and he looked at me. I just remember the eyes and the big long tail. My son was with me. We ran over him and so we pulled over, got turned around, and went back. He was not there."
Linnell said after the incident she went home and called Delta County Dispatch.
"Dispatch in Delta said since it was on the highway I needed to talk to highway patrol," she said. "They transferred me to highway patrol and whomever it was I talked to there she didn’t even seem to know [where] the area was. She said she was new and so I explained to her where it was and she kind of said well since no one was hurt and there was no car damage and the lion wasn’t there then she said that probably was okay. I said no, a wounded lion is not good to have around especially if he had run up that hill there are several houses up there. She said okay well then I’ll tell DOW [Division of Wildlife] and that’s where it was left."
The Delta County Sheriff’s Office told KVNF it had no information on the incident. Thursday morning the Colorado State Patrol’s Public Information Office said it had no information as well.
Colorado Park and Wildlife's J. Wenum, the area game manager for the Gunnison Basin and North Fork Valley, said the incident was not reported to his agency.
"Unfortunately there sounds like there was a breakdown in communication," Wenum said. "We were not notified of the incident," Wenum said. "The dispatch center that handled that is taking steps to remedy that and I don’t anticipate any future regarding similar settings."
Wenum said he spoke to Colorado State Patrol's dispatch. He said the agency has a record of the call but closed the case without notifying Parks and Wildlife of the incident.
Linnell said she gave the state patrol dispatch operator her number, but as of Thursday afternoon she has not heard anything from the agency and she’s concerned about a potential wounded mountain lion being in the area.
"There was just like dust," she said. "You could see on the front of my car where he had hit. We think maybe he just like rolled and the car just went over him. I can’t imagine he walked away unscathed."
Wenum said when an animal gets injured it goes into a defensive and protective mode not an aggressive mode.
"Because at this point if they are injured they probably have limited mobility," Wenum said. "They may not be feeling well and they’re not able to remove themselves from hazardous situations. If they didn’t have an injury they could probably runaway or climb a tree or do something to avoid and evade that perceived threat."
Wenum said he wants to talk to Linnell about the incident to document the case. He said if it seems the lion could have been seriously injured Parks and Wildlife could ended up euthanizing the animal if they can locate it.
The Hotchkiss Police Department said a mountain was spotted around town last week, but it isn’t known if it is the same lion involved in this incident.
KVNF tried to reach Colorado State Patrol for comment on this story, but phone calls were not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.
Colorado State Patrol confirmed on Friday that a woman called its area dispatch on Sunday to report that she struck a cat with her vehicle. A patrol spokesman said the operator who took the call failed to report it to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He said the operator's supervisor would speak to them directly about the incident.