While mountain lions are magnificent animals, they can also be dangerous. That's why Dinosaur National Monument officials want visitors to know that there has been recent mountain lion activity in the Echo Park area, where a fresh kill was spotted July 22.
"Signs of the kill 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," Chief of Interpretation Dan Johnson said. "A 72-hour closure was placed on the area immediately around the kill site to minimize disturbance of the mountain lion as it feeds. 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."
While mountain lion sightings remain rare in the monument that straddles the Colorado-Utah border, park officials want visitors to stay alert when they're out in 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," said Wayne Prokopetz, Dinosaur's chief of resource management. "Mountain lions will follow these animals since they are the lions' preferred food source."
Hikers, boaters, and campers in the monument are encouraged to report any sign or signtings of mountain lions to Dinosaur officials. Additionally, the following safety tips are offered:
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 aggressively:
* Do not turn your back or take your eyes off it
* Remain standing
* Throw things
* Shout loudly
* Fight back aggressively
In addition to mountain lions, other wildlife, such as deer, elk, black bear, and bighorn sheep, are prevalent in the monument. You should be alert for animals crossing the roads –particularly at dawn and dusk. Never approach or feed any animals in the monument.