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Horsetooth Mountain reopens Wednesday, two juvenile mountain lions found in area captured

Runner attacked by mountain lion to talk Thursday
Posted at 8:56 AM, Feb 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 13:37:24-05

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — About a week and a half after a runner was attacked by a mountain lion, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space reopened and two mountain lions found in the park were captured, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced Wednesday.

The Horsetooth Mountain and Soderberg trailheads had been closed since Feb. 5 due to public safety concerns, CPW said. It reopened to the public on Wednesday morning.

A male in his 30s was running on the trails on Feb. 4 when he was attacked by a juvenile mountain lion. He was able to fight back and, in self-defense, suffocated the cat, according to CPW. He was treated at a hospital for scratches and punctures, and was released the following day. The man, who has not been identified, is planning to talk about the experience at a press conference Thursday.

Since that incident, rangers in Larimer County have been helping state wildlife officers assess mountain lion activity in the area, which is popular for outdoor enthusiasts. On Feb. 6, officers placed trail cameras in the vicinity of the attack to learn more about the mountain lions’ activities.

Over the weekend, CPW captured two juvenile mountain lions at Horsetooth Mountain. CPW said it believes they are siblings of the lion that attacked the runner. Wildlife officers said they plan to move the animals to a wildlife rehabilitation facility before releasing them back into the wild. CPW said it will share more information on this on Thursday.

“The Front Range of Colorado plays home to many of Colorado’s wildlife and we have an expanding urban interface and increased recreation pressure,” said Mark Leslie, northeast region manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The interaction between wildlife and people is going to increase and we need to find a way to balance the needs of people and the needs of wildlife.”

Steve Gibson, district manager for Larimer County Department of Natural Resources, said this doesn’t mean mountain lions aren’t in the area.

“While it’s located close to urban areas, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is a wild place that supports many different animals,” he said. “There will always be a chance to encounter wildlife on the property, including normally elusive mountain lions.”

The mountain lion attack occurred on West Ridge Trail, which is one of the more remote areas of the open space.

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space was created back in the 1980s due, in part, to its valuable wildlife habitat and to provide a place for wildlife to live on the Front Range. Larimer County said its staff is planning educational opportunities for visitors about recreating in mountain lion habitat.