Updated: January 15, 2010 at 12:00 am
Scamp was a yappy little dog, a beloved family pet that had seemed paranoid lately.
Thursday night, the Butts family of Green Mountain Falls watched in horror as they saw what had been making Scamp paranoid. A pair of mountain lions charged into their yard and dragged off their pet, while they stood just 30 feet away. Michael Butts said his 7-year-old daughter and her friend saw it happen.
The brazen attack, in a winter that has seen a marked increase in mountain lion activity along Ute Pass, has some concerned for the safety of other pets, and even people.
“We moved into their country. We weren’t ignorant to the fact there were mountain lions around,” Butts said Friday. “Bears are around. Mountain lions are around. It is a danger of living in this area.”
“Obviously we never envisioned it as a reality for us.”
It was near dusk Thursday, when the family was relaxing on the porch at their home on Ora Street, on the north side of town, up against the hills. There had been mountain lion sightings in the area recently, and local schools on Jan. 5 warned parents to be on alert.
Two mountain lions, a mother and its cub, came rushing down the hill into the unfenced yard. The younger one caught Scamp in its jaws and began dragging him up the hill, while the mother looked on. The 15-pound dog, a two-year-old Cavachon mix, didn’t have a chance.
From the porch, they threw firewood at the big cats, which ran back up the hill with Scamp.
It all took less than a minute.
“The mom was I guess playing wing man, teaching her baby how to hunt,” Butts said. “They were going for the dog. They weren’t interested in us.”
Green Mountain Falls Marshal Randy Ford said there have been sightings around town this winter and signs of deer being killed, but this was the first attack on a pet. He has never had so much lion activity so close to town.
“I really don’t have a guess as to why they’re more active this year and why we’re seeing more of them,” he said. “It’s entirely possible they’re just finding hunting a little bit tougher up on the slopes of (Pikes) Peak.”
He is warning residents to watch their pets and children closely, especially at dawn and dusk, and not to hike alone.
A baited cage trap was set today near the Butts home Friday, and Ford said his office will do extra patrols in the area and stand by at Ute Pass Elementary School during lunch and recess, starting next week.
The incident has rattled the Butts family. They got Scamp as a puppy, and don’t plan to replace him any time soon.
“It will be a while before we have another dog,” Butts said. “We’ve lost a pet, but we’ve got to figure out, if we’re going to have another pet, how do we keep it safe and how do we keep ourselves safe?”