Mountain lion, cubs spotted on Rio Grande Trail near Aspen
December 22, 2010
ASPEN – A local wildlife officer is cautioning Rio Grande Trail users to be mindful after a jogger spied a mountain lion and two cubs on the trail near Aspen on Tuesday morning.
The jogger encountered the female cat and cubs below the Slaughterhouse Bridge, where Cemetery Lane drops down to the Roaring Fork River on the edge of town. The bridge also crosses over the trail, which runs along the river.
The individual reported the sighting to the Forest Service. Kevin Wright, with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, was then notified.
The lion family was perched on a hillside above the trail; they then crossed down to the river, according to Wright. The cat didn’t threatened the jogger, who chose to retreat, he said.
The trail sees heavy use by joggers, walkers and cross-country skiers. Wright said he may try to post a sign to let people know about the presence of mountain lions.
People who walk or run with their dogs on the trail should be especially cautious, he said. Trail rules call for dogs to be leashed, and they could be in danger if they’re not, according to Wright.
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“Dogs that are off-leash could be easy prey,” he said.
An individual who encounters a mountain lion should stop and make themselves “look big” – raise your arms or a backpack above your head, Wright advised. “Slowly back away. Never run from a lion,” he said.
Sections of the Rio Grande Trail are occasionally posted with mountain lion advisories, but the stretch below Aspen doesn’t typically see lion activity, according to Wright. Deer are a lion’s main prey, he said, and lions are generally most active when the deer are – at first light and at dusk.