Reader photos: Mountain lion in a snowy landscape
Grand County is undoubtedly lion country, and a visitor caught proof of this with her own eyes while snowmobiling, at one point she estimates she was only 10 feet away from the powerful predator.
Photographer Brittany Brain and her husband are visiting the area from Birmingham, Alabama. On Monday, Jan. 30, they took a snowmobiling trip with On Trail Rentals in Grand Lake, discovering more than snowy trails. When they were on the last stretch of trail near Rocky Mountain National Park at the end of the day, they spotted an adult mountain lion, tawny in a white landscape. Brain was able to capture the lion with her Canon digital camera and telephoto lens.
“We were on the trail between points A and B on the trail map. For most of the time the lion was about 100 yards away from us, but the last photo was taken about 10 feet away,” Brain wrote in an email to the Sky-Hi New. “From a distance I saw the lion jump down into a hole under the wooden fence structure, so we stopped the snowmobile a little past it and I was able to capture him/her in a shot there.”
In a couple photos, the mountain lion stares straight back at the snowmobilers, although it was originally spooked by the encounter.
“He was definitely afraid of either us, the snowmobile, or both. When we first saw him, he ran pretty fast away from us down the trail. The photos of him leisurely walking were when he was a good 100 (feet) away and, I suppose, didn’t feel threatened,” Brain wrote. “We had also stopped the snowmobile at that point so I could get my camera out and change lenses. It was when we started driving again in his direction (the one we had to take to get back!) that he ran again and jumped down under the fence.”
Despite the lion’s cautiousness, Brain’s quick photography skills allowed her to capture lots of photos in the animal’s natural environment. On the snowmobile trail map, points A and B are on North Supply Trail, which runs near North Supply Creek.
Although mountain lions are typically solitary, elusive creatures, residents and visitors have been spotting them more, especially in Grand Lake. Brain spotted the lion roughly 5 miles northeast of Columbine Lake, where a mountain lion attacked a pet dog on Jan. 23. That lion was euthanized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Recent attacks on pets prompted Parks and Wildlife to issue a warning to residents, with tips on how to live in lion territory. To learn more about Parks and Wildlife’s recommendations, visit cpw.state.co.us and click on “living with wildlife.”
Mountain lion encounters can be reported to Colorado Parks and Wildlife by calling the Hot Sulphur Springs District Office at 970-725-6200.
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