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Young Mountain Lions Rescued in the Knick of Time

Two young mountain lions would have drowned earlier this week if it hadn’t been for a daring rescue and the keen eyes of Mike Canterbury, a dam tender for the Pine River Irrigation District in Bayfield, Colorado.

According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Southwest Region, Canterbury was mere moments from releasing a flood of water from the Vallecito Reservoir when he spotted two young mountain lions trapped in the spillway.

He called CPW for assistance. Wildlife officer Ty Smith stepped in to attempt a rescue, but he had a tough job ahead of him. The walls of the spillway are quite tall and steep.

mountain lions rescued
Image by CPW SW Region on Twitter/X

Smith initially assumed he’d have to dart the mountain lions, but first, he tried dangling a rope to see if they’d grab on. (They’re cats, after all.) One did, and Smith was able to pull the first baby lion up to safety. @CPW_SW wrote on X: “The first mountain lion held onto the rope all the way to the top of the spillway barrier and quickly ran off into the woods.”

With half the mission accomplished, wildlife officials likely hoped the second rescue would go just as smoothly. It didn’t. The second mountain lion didn’t fall for the rope dangle.

After climbing down into the spillway, though, Smith proved the second mountain lion is still just a big kitty by getting it interested in the rope after all. Officials caught the lion in a catch pole and lifted it over the wall. After hiding under a truck for a few minutes, the second lion eventually ran off in the direction of its sibling.

It’s a happy ending for these two mountain lions, who were nearly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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