Colorado rang in 2014 with a bit of a mellow buzz -- a certain relaxed attitude -- and it was a feeling that lasted throughout the year. Sure, that mellow was harshed by continuing problems with police and sheriff's deputies, as well as a very contested (and expensive) election season. But we also got a few needed civics lessons in the form of same-sex marriage and student protests. In the end, though, our minds remained tuned to the biggest story of the year: legalized marijuana. What will 2015 bring? Who knows? Anything can happen when you're a mile high. For proof, here are our strangest Colorado animal stories of 2014, compiled from news sources across Colorado -- including Westword. Or, you can check out all our Year in Review 2014: Strange But True.
An eighteen-year-old and two seventeen-year-olds were arrested in April and charged in connection with the killing of a llama that had been roaming around Trinidad State Junior College. The story began in April, when police were asked to removed the llama from the campus. They succeeded, but the animal later turned up dead near Atchison Canyon. A necropsy revealed that the llama had been shot with a crossbow and then had its throat slit. The accused teens had posted pictures of the crime on Facebook.
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During a November cold snap, someone tweeted a picture of a dog curled up outside someone's front door in snowy, five-degree weather and asked, "What can we do? Called 311 & animal control, owners arent home 5°F #cowx #viral #help." The story did, in fact, go viral as people retweeted the post and news stations reported on the situation. Police eventually contacted the owner and reported that the person had taken the dog inside.
In November, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department warned Durango residents that "deer are entering the mating season, and residents are reminded to put away equipment in which big game animals can become tangled. Residents are also asked to be careful how outdoor Christmas decorations are hung." On November 8, a large mule-deer buck had apparently gotten stuck in the ropes of a batting cage at Durango High School; a wildlife officer had to cut off the animal's antlers in order to free it. "Every year, big game animals get hung up in items such as volleyball nets, hammocks and Christmas ornaments," advised Matt Thorpe, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Durango. "When that happens, it's very stressful for the animal, sometimes fatal, and it can be dangerous for people." Yeah, and if you're not careful, it can win you a trip back to Walmart for more lawn snowmen and icicle lights.
A grand-champion goat at the Weld County Fair mysteriously disappeared in July in the middle of the event -- and just a few hours before it was supposed to be shown at the Junior Livestock Auction. The red and white Boer goat still sold for $5,500, even though the buyers knew the animal was missing. Police investigated, but didn't come up with any leads.
Two men who live in a Lakewood apartment building got into a dispute in July, and one of them shot the other's dog. But in an apparent bit of karma, he also managed to accidentally shoot himself in the leg. The police cited the man, who wasn't seriously injured. The dog, a Chihuahua named Princess, was also expected to survive.