A mountain lion crawled into a Colorado home and killed a family's pet house cat and fled into a canyon after wildlife officers shot it with non-lethal bean bag rounds to force it outside, authorities said on Friday.
The prowling cougar came through an unlocked screen door at a home in Boulder in the Colorado foothills late Thursday night while the occupants were not home, Jason Clay, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said in a statement.
The residents, who were not named, discovered the mountain lion inside their residence when they arrived home, and called police who then summoned the wildlife agency, Clay said.
Wildlife officers decided the best course of action was to chase the cougar out the front door by firing the bean bag rounds at it, Clay said, adding that at least one round hit the animal.
"Officers saw the lion run up the street and believed it went up into the foothills near the Boulder Canyon vicinity," the statement said.
The carcass of the house cat was found by responding officers, Boulder Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kristi Peterson told Reuters.
The cat's owner told Denver TV station KDVR in a tearful interview that she had owned her cat, named Klondike, for 10 years.
"She (Klondike) was difficult to live with - she wasn't grateful for anything - but she was mine and it's hard (to see) the end she had," she said.
Boulder Police tweeted a photo of the mountain lion crouched between a coffee table and a couch inside the house.
Mountain lions, also known as pumas or panthers, are native to the Americas and their range extends from the Canadian Yukon to the tip of South America, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
Author and Boulder resident David Baron, whose 2004 book, "The Beast in the Garden," chronicled the city's struggle to co-exist with cougars and other predators, said that mountain lions will learn to avoid humans if they are hazed.
"They will learn if they go into a home and get shot with bean bags, they're going to have an unpleasant experience," Baron told Reuters by phone.