Men Ticketed For Pot After Picking Up Injured Mountain Lion

Wildlife Official Says Trio Was Lucky To Have Escaped Injury

Three men who thought they rescued an injured bobcat or lynx in the middle of the highway were shocked to learn it was a 65-pound mountain lion.

They were even more shocked when two of them were ticketed for drug possession.

The trio was driving on U.S. Highway 36 from Estes Park, Colo., on the evening of Jan. 26, when they spotted an injured animal in the middle of the road near Pinewood Springs.

"It looked up as if to say, 'Help me,'" Jason Lee Laird told the Boulder Daily Camera.

The three men decided to rescue the animal so that it wouldn't be hit by another car, and take it to a 24-hour veterinary clinic in Longmont.

While Laird's friends directed traffic, he scooped up the large feline into his jacket and the three men lifted the animal into the back of the Jeep they were driving. One of the men sat in the back seat and stroked the animal to reassure it as they drove toward Longmont.

They stopped in the next town, ironically called Lyons, and flagged down a Boulder County sheriff's deputy who took one look at the animal and told them they had picked up a mountain lion. The deputy notified the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The deputy told the men that he smelled marijuana in the Jeep and Laird suggested it was because the cat had relieved herself in the back of the Jeep. They deputy didn't buy it, telling the men "mountain lions don't smoke marijuana," according to the deputy's report of the incident.

Laird, 21, and Zachariah Deming, 19, were ticketed for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The injured mountain lion, which wildlife officers guessed was four or five months old, had to be euthanized.

A DOW spokesman said the men were lucky to have survived the encounter without serious injuries. Todd Malmsbury told the newspaper that he had never heard of the rescue of a mountain lion that size.

"A mountain lion that large can kill a deer -- that's how they make a living," Malmsbury told the Camera.

Even possession of wildlife is against the law, but the men were not ticketed for that infraction, a sheriff's department spokesman said, because they were acting in good faith.

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