Colorado Parks & Wildlife officers Sam Peterson, left, and Tyler Asnicar handle a tranqulized mountain lion that was captured in the garage of a home on Steele Street in Longmont on Monday. (Longmont Police Department)

State wildlife officers on Monday afternoon tranquilized a mountain lion that had entered an open garage at a home on Steele Street after roaming neighborhoods in north Longmont.

The cat, a young male, was lying beneath a car in the garage when the officers arrived.

“The goal was to get a dart in it,” said Jason Clay, spokesman for Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s Northeast Region. “They were able to tranquilize it.“

Clay said that he heard from the officers at 4:56 p.m., three of whom were en route to the address. He said he did not know who had contacted the department about the lion. By 6:07 p.m., he said, the officers had the lion tranquilized and tagged.

“They’re in the process of relocating it to the mountains now,” Clay said about 7 p.m. Monday.

He said this was the department’s first encounter with the lion, which was given a green ear tag before being taken to a remote mountainous area.

“Most of the time, they try to keep it in the same area,” Clay said.

That area, Area 2, covers Boulder County and southern Larimer County and includes Estes Park.

Relocation doesn’t always solve the problem, Clay said.

“Lions can move great distances and will return to areas where they can find food,” he said. “It happens from time to time that lions come back within a few days, from many miles away.”

Officers load a mountain lion onto a trailer after the animal was tranquilized in a garage in the 2300 block of Steele Street in Longmont on Monday. (Katherine Crowley / Courtesy photo)

Sightings of a mountain lion in north Longmont were first reported over the weekend on a community Facebook page, with one resident of the neighborhood northwest of Hover Street and 21st Avenue saying their neighbor had spotted a mountain lion in their backyard.

As of Monday morning, Parks & Wildlife had received no calls about mountain lion sightings, Clay said. By late afternoon, though, residents began reporting on Facebook that the cat was seen in neighborhoods east of Hover.

Carol Gilmore Smith, who lives on Frontier Street four blocks east of Hover, told the Times-Call that the lion was in the backyard of a home on Sherri Mar Street, right behind her house, and that police came to her home about 4:15 p.m. looking for the lion.

Residents reported on Facebook that Longmont Police notified them about the lion via phone calls.

Ultimately, the lion ended up at the home in the 2300 block of Steele, where it remained until wildlife officers arrived.

Clay said it was safer for the big cat to be darted in the garage.

“We don’t always like to dart them in a tree. It could fall and get really injured,” he said.

Clay said that the last report of a mountain lion in Longmont was May 28 of last year, near 17th Avenue and Francis Street.

“In the last two months, we had a sighting just west of Berthoud and had two other sightings between Niwot and Hygiene,” he said. “Longmont is not on the normal side for mountain lions, but Boulder and Niwot certainly are.”

Clay described recent mountain lion activity in the area as being “pretty normal.”

“People see mountain lions more often now really because of technology,” he said. “People have homes security cameras that let you see things you don’t normally see outside your window. …

“Mountain lions try to avoid humans but do utilize urban areas for food resources, so it’s not unusual to have mountain lions within town. It is unusual for them to be around during the day.”

The young male lion captured Monday appeared healthy, he said. “They didn’t run any tests.”

If a resident spots a mountain lion, the best thing to do is to report it to Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Clay said.

“We need to know about it, and mitigate conflicts and prevent dangerous situations for the lions and for people.”

Residents who spot a mountain lion should call CPW’s Denver office at 303-291-7227. After hours, residents should call Colorado State Patrol dispatch at 303-239-4501 and ask for the on-call officer.

Parks & Wildlife has officers assigned to every district.

“It was good work by our wildlife officers with help by the police department to get it out safely,” Clay said.

A young male mountain lion lies under a vehicle in a garage in the 2300 block of Steele Street in Longmont on Monday. (Colorado Parks & Wildlife / Courtesy photo)

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