Security camera captures mountain lion near REI flagship store in downtown Denver

A security camera detected a prowler armed with massive canines and sharp claws early Friday morning in a parking lot near the REI Denver Flagship store in Confluence Park.

A mountain lion was filmed there around 1 a.m. on June 24, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay.

“It may surprise some people in urban areas, but it’s not uncommon for mountain lions to come in,” Clay said. “Where it was near this REI, it probably traveled following the South Platte River. It probably happens a lot more than we know. If it hadn’t been for security camera footage, no one would have ever known.

Around 9 p.m. Friday, there was another report of a cougar in the city, this one about half a block south of Interstate 70 near Pecos Street on West Elk Place. CPW does not know if it was the same cat seen near REI.

Wildlife officers assisted by Denver Animal Control and Denver Police responded, assessed the situation, and decided they would not be able to safely move the animal.

“It wasn’t the right set of circumstances, so they let it happen,” Clay said. “It was just to be safe for the puma and the people who responded.

“He was in a tree, where he could have climbed even higher in the tree,” he continued. “When you tranquilize an animal, it can most likely fall. There were also power lines in the way. Being so late at night, the possibility could exist that if you have a tranquilizer dart in the lion, and it drops before it’s sedated, it could leak out and you’ll lose it.

There were other mountain lion sightings on the same day in nearby parts of town, according to people who reported them on Twitter. (Watch a video here.)

CPW asks the public to report mountain lion sightings promptly so that wildlife officers can respond and relocate the animal if deemed appropriate.

“It could be a case where we don’t get another report on this lion and it moves out of the area on its own, or it could be that we get more reports and a chance to respond,” said Clay. “We will see how it goes. Cougars in general are most active at night, which is why they so often go unnoticed.

There are about 4,000 to 5,500 cougars in Colorado, according to a CPW pamphlet called Living with Lions.

“Colorado mountain lions are typically light cinnamon tawny in color with black tipped ears and tail,” the CPW brochure states. “They vary in size and weight, with males being larger than females. Adult males can be over 8 feet long and weigh an average of 150 pounds. Adult females can be up to seven feet long and weigh average 90 lb. Cougars are easily distinguished from other Colorado wild cat species.Lions are much larger than bobcats or bobcats and have long tails, which can be one-third of their total length.

David H. Henry