DOVE CREEK MOUNTAIN LION TAKEN TOWN BY LOCAL 12-YEAR -OLD BOY
Last week, multiple sightings of a mountain lion in town and a death of a family pet led to action in Dove Creek.
On Monday, January 28th, local residents, trained hounds, along with Colorado Parks and Wildlife tracked, treed, and killed a mountain lion just west of town, near the sewer lagoons on the Fisher property.
One of those residents, was 12 year old Jarret Cressler, who was able to experience the rare opportunity to take down this cat with supervision and guidance using a precise single-shot to the heart with a .223 rifle.
On a post on social media, Jarret’s father, Clinton Cressler posts:
“How many 12 year olds can say they went to school today like any normal Monday only to get excused to kill a nuisance lion outside of town? Well my boy is one probably the only one.”
The responses on social media to the news are almost entirely of expressions of gratitude, praise, and messages of congratulations. Most people who live in town also play and hunt in the country and are very much aware of the dangers involved in a mountain lion that will not move on.
People who do not live among cat country may accuse this act as a cruelty, however, those who do spend a significant time around wildlife know that when a mountain lion does not leave a residential area, something is wrong. Normally, cats that come to town don’t stay very long.
When asked what led this mountain lion to its fate, one of the residents and Aunt of Jarret Cressler, Christy Vinger states, “Residents of the immediate area see mountain lions fairly regularly. This particular lion had killed one of the local homeowner’s dogs the night before it was taken. This is the lion that killed the dog. This is known because trained lion dogs were taken to the kill site and found the lions track.”
Christy Vinger, Local Guide and Outfitter, Trent Daves, Daves’ trained hounds, and Jarret Cressler, all avid outdoors-man and hunters, were together with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer to eradicate what can be referred to as a nuisance lion. Christy Vinger explained further:
“Living where we do, with nature out our back door we will always have confrontations with wildlife. Whether it be skunks eating the cat food or deer eating the rose bushes, or the occasional lion preying on our pets and livestock.” “This particular lion is a somewhat exceptional, and isolated case. Whereas other lions that have come into town quickly move on-they don't care to be around people-this one, having been injured as a kitten was more or less forced to find easy to catch prey, in this case a dog.”
Jarret Cressler, the 12 year old boy who took down the Dove Creek Mountain Lion has been raised to be an outdoors-man.
According to his mother, Crystal Broderick, “2018 was Jarrett's first year of hunting. After a successful deer season in November, he really got hunting fever!”
On this incredible opportunity, Jarret states: “Yes this was the first opportunity I had to be involved in a mountain lion hunt. My reaction to this opportunity was overwhelming, because you don't get an opportunity like this every day.” We asked if Jarret would share some words on how he felt, and what safety measures he remembered to keep in mind when he was ready to take his shot.
“Some of the safety measures I had in mind was to control my breathing, don't put your finger in the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot, and always keep the gun pointing down, unless you are shooting at something.”
Jarret also stated that this is not something you do without trained hound dogs and states, “When you are hunting mountain lion you always want to make sure that you have hound dogs, so they can tree the mountain lion, and it is very hard to kill a mountain lion without them.”
As rare as a mountain lion attack is, another attack was reported in Larimore County, Colorado on Monday, February 4th, just one week after the Dove Creek incident, also led to the killing of a juvenile mountain lion. This was a human attack of a runner who was able to fight the cat and get away. The injuries sustained by the cat led to its death.
In that incident, it was clear the running of the jogger triggered the hunting instinct of the mountain lion, and began chase. The runner turned around just before the cat lunged at him, biting his face and wrist.
The injuries sustained by the runner were non-life threatening, but it is suspected that is the case because the runner was able to fight back. “The runner did everything he could to save his life. In the event of a lion attack you need to do anything in your power to fight back just as this gentleman did,” said Mark Leslie, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region manager.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, “Mountain lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than 20 fatalities in North America in more than 100 years.
Since 1990, Colorado has had 16 injuries as a result of mountain lion attacks, and three fatalities. Lion populations are doing very well in Colorado, but they are elusive animals and tend to avoid humans. Most people will never see a lion in the wild, but they are there. If you live, work, or play in mountain lion country, it is important to be alert.”
encounter a mountain lion:
• Do not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
• Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly and firmly to it. Move slowly and never turn your back on it.
• Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.
• Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you're wearing one. If you have small children with you, protect them by picking them up so they won't panic and run.
• If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to the lion.
• Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. We recommend targeting the eyes and nose as these are sensitive areas. Remain standing or try to get back up!
Christy Vinger agrees and states, “If you ever see a lion consider yourself lucky. They are elusive creatures who see you way more than you ever see them. If confronted by a lion appear large as you can, make noise and don't ever run from it.”
Jarret took the time to include his gratitude for everyone who helped make opportunity become a successful reality.
“I will like to give thanks to Christy Vinger for choosing me to shoot the lion, and I will also like to thank Trent Dave's for giving me this opportunity to shoot the lion, and for supplying the hounds. Lastly I would like to thank the game warden for supervising me and making sure I did everything correctly. So all and all this was a amazing opportunity for me to shoot this young Tom.”
Respecting wildlife includes being informed on how to avoid or manage wildlife encounters. To learn more about living with wildlife in Colorado, visit cpw.state.co.us.
The Press would like to thank everyone who shared their story with us.
We appreciate allowing us to share this information to the members of our communities, as well as to those members outside of our communities who love Dolores County and the residents who live here.