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Mountain lion sighting prompts closure of Dinosaur National Monument campground

Published: Thursday, Dec. 15 2011 11:57 a.m. MST

DINOSAUR, Colo. — Dinosaur National Monument has closed the Split Mountain Campground, its picnic area and Green River Access due to recent mountain lion activity.

Park officials say the mountain lion was spotted the afternoon of Dec. 11, dragging a mule deer kill down a hill to a cache site in the campground. Mountain lions store their kills and return to feed for a number of days, and they exhibit defensive behavior around the carcass during that time.

In winter conditions, the lion can remain near the cached carcass for one to two weeks. Due to the significant safety risk posed by the lion and the cached food supply, park officials decided to close the Split Mountain area until further notice and for possibly as long as two weeks.

While mountain lions are typically rarely seen, all of Dinosaur National Monument is suitable habitat for the big cat. Visitors are reminded to exercise caution and take these steps 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 surroundings

• Use a walking stick

Park managers advise if visitors do encounter a mountain lion that they should refrain from running, as this might trigger the animal's attack instinct. Visitors should make themselves appear larger by waving arms or a jacket over their head and back away slowly. Eye contact should be maintained.

Amy Joi O'Donoghue Twitter: amyjoi16

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