CPW, the mayor’s office has yet to find evidence of a wildcat in Fort Morgan, despite persistent reports from residents.

May 13 – Morgan County Sheriff Dave Martin gives his opinion on continuing reports of a large cat in Fort Morgan.

Al-Khamis confirmed that his office was dispatched to assess the situation on Thursday, May 5 at approximately 5:15 pm. The caller, who also lost his dog, reported hearing an animal in distress.

Martin said his officers did not write a report because they had not found any animals at the time. Instead, it was converted as a “help another agency” call and referred to the Colorado Parks & Wildlife office in Burch.

“Our office was sent to him, and we referred him to the wildlife department,” Martin said. “Our dispatcher sent (the Department of Wildlife was notified by phone) there, so I suppose it was the dispatcher who notified them at the officers’ request.”

Game Warden Todd Cozad of the Department of Wildlife said he went to the area to investigate the situation himself after receiving numerous reports and hearing stories from residents about wild cat-like animals.

“When I went into the area, I couldn’t see anything, any kind of evidence or any kind of big cat,” he said. “The only kind of close physical evidence I could see were the fingerprints on the lid of Ed Nestor’s hot tub, and at the largest, those were a Bobcat. There was no physical evidence of any kind.”

He added that some residents sent him pictures of animal tracks in the mud, but it turned out to be dog tracks. In his search for evidence, Cuzad called the Fort Morgan Veterinary Clinic to check if any animals with injuries from a wild animal attack had been brought in. As of May 12, there have been snakebites, but no other infections from any wild animals have been reported to the veterinary clinic.

Kuzad also commented on the video, which was taken from the security footage of a resident’s home.

“As far as in the video, I don’t think the sound necessarily is a (mountain) lion. It might not even be a bobcat. I made raccoons make sounds just like that when I had them on the end of a gallows. Even an opossum from time to time. So, I don’t know what it is, but I’ve sent the video to some of our other wildlife officials who deal with mountain lions pretty regularly, and all of them have even concluded that (audio) is not a (mountain) lion in that video,” Kuzad said.

Cuzad also noted that the behavior of the dog — mistakenly identified as the animal in question in a May 11 article in the Fort Morgan Times — in the video would not have been so calm had there been a mountain lion or other large cat nearby.

“I wasn’t in any way worried or convinced there was a (mountain) lion there. We’ve had (mountain) lions here at Fort Morgan in the past. I’ve dealt with them personally, which is why I was confident (saying) there is no physical evidence to show a lion ( mount) anywhere,” Kuzad said. “I don’t just make assumptions…we just get out of the physical evidence and (must) have evidence.”

Selina Naseem, a Fort Morgan resident who specializes in local wildlife, reached out to The Fort Morgan Times to share her personal experience. Naseem holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Wildlife Biology from West Texas A&M University.

Also referring to Nestor’s video, she said, “Although the tracks do not show the claws, they are clearly domestic dog tracks. It is not uncommon for the claws not to show if the dog has regularly clipped them short regularly, as many pets do.” Attach a figure showing the difference between the two. Additionally, dog tracks usually show a strong “X” shape when looking at the arrangement of the toes. The tracks on the hot tub cover are undoubtedly a domestic dog.”

Naseem continued, “It is very likely that the reason why (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) said they had nothing to worry about was that the evidence did not appear to be lining up with a wild cat of any kind. All of this points to pet dogs. If there are cats involved, who is It’s probably a stray. You’d be surprised to know how often a stray cat, or a domestic cat in heat, is mistaken for a bobcat or even a mountain lion.”

Despite the lack of concrete evidence required by the MCSO and CPW to take action, Fort Morgan residents continue to provide personal reports about their encounters with a large cat-like animal.

“Last week I got off (from work) very late. It was about two in the morning, and I saw a very strange animal that I couldn’t identify running across the road here south of Legion Field. At first I thought it might have been a wolf, but it moved a lot like a wolf. The cat. And this thing had a very long tail, so I think it probably isn’t a Bobcat if it was the same animal. We also found dead rabbits in our yard. Fort Morgan resident James Henry said in a phone call to the Fort Morgan Times…..down the street ( Streets) Indian”.

Another resident, Aaron Donihoe, reported seeing traces all over his one-acre property.

“I’m a hunter from the way back, so I know what the path of the cat is and the path of the fox and the wolf and the dog. And that was no one. I began to look at it, and it is exactly the three-lobed path that the mountain lion is leaving. Not a bobcat either, a mountain lion. (She) there. Tracks all over the place and it’s clearly a decent size, about (the size of) the top of an average cup of coffee,” Donihue said.

On the night of Wednesday, May 11, around 11 p.m., he reported seeing the animal himself near Pioneer Elementary School. He and his friend tried to follow the animal with a flashlight before it escaped. They got a clear look, but unfortunately no pictures.

“The animal turned around and looked at us, its eyes glowing… They were orange-green… It was clearly a mountain lion. I don’t care what they say, bobcat, whatever it is… Mountain lion,” said Donihue. I saw it with my own eyes and so did my friend.” “It just feels weird to have her.”

CPW did not report the May 11 meeting because he knows he needs proof for them to do anything about the animal. He plans to go back outside with his camera this week in hopes of capturing photographic evidence.

Jason Clay, CPW’s Northeast Public Information Officer, encourages residents who see a wild animal to stay a safe distance away from it, report the situation to the Wildlife Department and take photos or videos and detailed notes – including information such as size, color, Behavior, physical appearance (tail length) – about the encounter, which can be used to confirm and act in conjunction with a report as a kind of physical evidence.

(c) 2022 The Fort Morgan Times, Colo.

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