A mountain lion cub rescued near Dolores on Oct. 13 will be paired with another orphaned cub at the Schneegas Wildlife Foundation rehabilitation center in Silt, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The Dolores cub’s mother was killed by a motorist on Colorado Highway 145 while carrying her kitten. Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office deputies rescued the cub, and it was delivered to the rehab center.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Michael Sirochman said another orphaned cub at the Frisco Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Del Norte will be sent to the Schneegas center to join the Dolores cub. That cub lost his mother near Golden.
“Pairing them up is a benefit because they can learn from each other and grow up knowing their own kind,” Sirochman said.
The young cubs will be fattened up in captivity for six months to a year, then released to the wild together.
To make sure they don’t get accustomed to humans, the cubs are kept in an enclosure that doesn’t allow them to see or hear their caretakers.
Before they are released, they will learn to catch prey such as mice and rabbits. The young lions will likely be released in spring when there are natural, young prey in the wild.
“They will have experience catching prey, and will be able to help each other out and make the adjustment to the wild,” Sirochman said. “In general, the success rate is very good for mountain lion cubs released back into the wild.”
They will be ear-tagged and micro-chipped so they can be identified at a later date.
In July, Parks and Wildlife captured two bear cubs after their mother was killed on U.S. Highway 491 near Dove Creek. The cubs are being rehabilitated at the Frisco Creek center and will be released into the wild this spring, possibly in Southwest Colorado. The cubs will be placed in an artificial den that will be built in the remote backcountry.
“It is their natural instinct to den up and hibernate,” said local Parks and Wildlife officer Matt Thorpe.
Once spring arrives, they will push away a hay bale, and their return to the wild becomes official.