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Mountain lion cubs rescued before being washed away in reservoir spillway

Colorado wildlife officials were called to Vallecito Reservoir by a staffer who was about to release water down the spillway where the two young cubs were stuck.

VALLECITO, Colo. — Two young mountain lion cubs found themselves stuck in the spillway of a southwest Colorado reservoir, and a staffer from the dam spotted them right before he was about to release water that would have likely washed them away. 

Colorado wildlife officials were called to help move the cubs out of harm's way. In a post to X, wildlife rescuers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the release of water likely would have drowned the two lions. 

The dam staff who spotted the lions held off on the release of water to give them a chance at survival. Officials opened up the plant property to allow rescuers to get close to the lions. 

CPW said district wildlife manager Ty Smith wasn't sure if he would have to dart the mountain lions or if they would cooperate and come out of the spillway another way. An X post reads, "He was provided a rope and dangled it in front of the kittens to see if by chance they’d grab onto it and he could lift it out. One of them did!"

Luckily, the first mountain lion grabbed onto the rope until it reached the top of the tall spillway barrier and quickly ran off into the woods. The second lion wasn't so cooperative and led rescuers on a chase as it ran down the spillway all the way to where the Los Pinos River continues below the dam. 

Smith tried to avoid darting the animal and climbed down the ladder into the spillway to try and get the young lion interested in the rope so it could be pulled up out of the spillway. 

Watch the video of CPW rescuers lifting the second lion out of the spillway: 

Eventually, rescuers were able to get the lion close enough to use a catch pole. It was lifted over the walls and released, but decided to hide under a truck for a few minutes. The second lion eventually ran off in the same direction as its sibling. 

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Animals and Wildlife  

Credit: CPW
Wildlife rescuers help two mountain lions escape Vallecito Reservoir before water release.


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