Aspen-area mountain lion has moved on |

Aspen-area mountain lion has moved on

Lisa Kantor of Aspen jogs along the Rio Grande Trail near Stein Park on Tuesday. Officials recently removed a sign warning people of a mountain lion in the area, outside of Aspen. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN ” A mountain lion that was spotted along the Rio Grande Trail has apparently left the area.

A sign warning hikers of the big cat was posted in March by the Colorado Division of Wildlife near the Slaughterhouse Bridge at the junction of McLain Flats Road and Cemetery Lane. It has been removed.

“In all likelihood, [the mountain lion] has moved on,” said DOW spokesman Randy Hampton, adding there have been no reports of sightings in the past week or two. “The deer and elk are moving, so it’s probably following them.

“It’s at least out of that area and in another location, as it follows that prey base.”

The sign essentially warned trail users of the possible presence of a large predator in the area and to keep children close while walking on the path, as well as to keep pets on a leash.

In mid-March, several people reported seeing a mountain lion along McLain Flats Road, and an increasing number of big-game carcasses was seen along the trail.

Aspen is situated in prime mountain lion habitat, and there probably are mountain lions in the area at all times.

Wildlife experts recently told The Aspen Times that mountain lion populations around parts of the Western Slope have slowly increased over the past couple of decades, as ranching and other traditionally rural ways of life have given way to increased urbanization. In the past, ranchers and others hunted mountain lions to prevent them from raiding flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, the experts say.

Lacking that pressure, the big cats have been reoccupying their historic range.

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