Watch: Colorado Wildlife Officers Haze Problem Mountain Lion by Shooting It with a Bean Bag Round

The lion had killed someone's cat and was bedded down near a local RV park
screengrab of bean-bagged lion CPW

The lion gets up from its bed before getting shot with a bean bag round (left). After getting hit by the bean bag, the lion sprints away (right). CPW via Twitter

Officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife hazed a mountain lion at an RV park near Bailey, Colorado, last weekend by shooting it at close range with a bean bag round. Officers were originally called to the scene after a local resident of the park reported that the lion had killed their pet cat. The lion was sticking around close to the RV, which prompted CPW officers to use “proactive management tactics” to scare it away.

In a video that was shared to Twitter by CPW, an officer is seen approaching the lion, which was bedded down under a bush near the RV. The officer continues to shout as he gets closer, and as soon as the lion gets up, he fires the bean bag round, striking the lion in its side. The lion then takes off, sprinting into the nearby woods at full speed.

“Wildlife officers reported the lion appeared healthy,” CPW wrote on Twitter. “Hopefully it doesn’t return.”

The Case for Cougar Hunting in Colorado

Mountain lions are thriving in Colorado, and sightings have become more common across the state in recent years. CPW estimates that there are between 3 thousand and 7 thousand lions currently living there. Attacks on humans are still rare, and the state has recorded a total of 23 attacks since 1990—with three of these proving fatal. The most recent attack occurred in March, when a lion clawed a man in front of his own home in Montezuma County.

The state allows the regulated hunting of mountain lions roughly six months out of the year, with wildlife managers keeping close tabs on regional harvest rates. Last year, hunters harvested 515 lions statewide.

These regulated hunting seasons help keep cougar populations in check, but there are some wildlife advocates and anti-hunting groups that would like to see these activities banned outright. Earlier this year, lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban all mountain lion, bobcat, and future lynx hunting opportunities in the state. Hunting groups widely criticized the bill, and lawmakers faced fierce backlash over the legislation. 

Read Next: Colorado Legislators Just Introduced a Bill That Would Ban Bobcat, Mountain Lion, and Lynx Hunting

“I think our members see this as an overreach of the state legislature,” Brien Webster of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers told The Colorado Sun. “They want to make sure wildlife management stays in the hands of our state wildlife agency and wildlife managers who are guided by science, not sentiment.”

The legislation failed to pass, with three of the bill’s four sponsors opting to pull their support.