DINOSAUR, Colo. - Officials at Dinosaur National Monument say they have found evidence of a fresh kill by a mountain lion in the area and are urging visitors to be cautious -- especially in the backcountry and along the river canyons.
Signs of the kill found Tuesday in the Echo Park area included paw prints, blood, fur, and drag marks from the mountain lion moving an animal from a meadow south of a restroom, across a road, and into the brush along the Green River, according to monument officials.
A 72-hour closure was placed on the area immediately around the kill site to minimize disturbance of the mountain lion as it feeds. That closure has now been lifted.
Prior to this event, a visitor on a rafting trip on the Green River noticed a mountain lion watching him from a ledge above the Rippling Brook campsite.
Visitors are being reminded that although mountain lions, also known as cougars, are rare to see, all of Dinosaur National Monument is suitable habitat. Visitors were advised to take appropriate precautions when recreating within the monument.
"As the higher elevation areas in the monument dry out, deer and elk will move to the river corridors to find better forage. Mountain lions will follow these animals since they are the lions preferred food source," said Wayne Prokopetz, chief of resource management.
"Due to the increase in sightings, we are stepping up our mountain lion safety education program," stated Chief Ranger Lee Buschkowsky.
Hikers, boaters, and campers were encouraged to be alert for their presence and report mountain lion sightings as soon as possible at a visitor center or ranger station.
Monument staff said visitors should remember the following safety tips:
To prevent an encounter:
Don’t hike or jog alone
Keep children within sight and close to you
Avoid dead animals
Keep a clean camp
Leave pets at home
Be alert to your surroundings
Use a walking stick
If you meet a mountain lion:
Don’t run, as this may trigger a cougar’s attack instinct
Stand and face it
Pick up children
Appear large, wave arms or jacket over your head
Do not approach, back away slowly
Keep eye contact
If you encounter a mountain lion and it acts aggressive:
Do not turn your back or take your eyes off it
Fight back aggressively
In addition to mountain lions, other wildlife, such as deer, elk, black bear, and bighorn sheep, are prevalent in the monument.
Motorists were also cautioned to be alert for animals crossing the roads -- particularly at dawn and dusk.
Visitors were also advised to never approach or feed any animals in the monument.
For more information on Dinosaur National Monument, call 435-781-7700. You can also visit us on the web at www.nps.gov/dino.