Forest Service looks to move dead cow on Sopris trail |

Forest Service looks to move dead cow on Sopris trail

Ryan Summerlin
This cow died on the trail to Thomas Lakes and Mount Sopris.
Leslie Madsen |

UPDATE: The Forest Service said Wednesday that it expected the rancher who owned the dead cow to move it away from the Thomas Lakes Trail that day and reintegrate a nearby calf with the herd.

A Denver couple visiting their son in the Roaring Fork Valley on Monday found a bloated cow carcass in their path as they were hiking down from Thomas Lakes.

Forest Service authorities want it moved because of concerns it will attract predators to the trail.

Leslie Madsen said she, her husband and their son, an organic farmer in Silt, hiked up to Thomas Lakes, “which have a gorgeous campsite,” and the peak of Mount Sopris “with beautiful 360-degree views.”

They saw no signs of a dead animal when the family ventured up the trail Sunday. So Madsen has narrowed the time of death to about a 12-hour window, estimating it must have “keeled over” sometime Sunday night or Monday morning.

Walking back down the trail Monday, they came upon the departed bovine on the trail, bloating on its side about 2½ miles from the trailhead.

That little time was enough for the carcass to begin visibly bloating, emitting noises from escaping gases and leaking fluids, according to Madsen.

“I was just hoping it wasn’t going to explode,” she said. “Soon it’s going to deteriorate into not such a funny thing.”

The hikers said a calf bleated in the brush.

Karen Schroyer, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger, said Tuesday afternoon that Forest Service is reaching out to the rancher who holds the grazing permit, whom she said is responsible for moving the carcass.

If it comes down to it, Forest Service personnel will step in, she said.

Schroyer is partly concerned that some large predators will start feeding on the carcass “so we want to see it dragged away from the trail as soon as possible,” Schroyer wrote in an email.

The rancher could also move the calf back to its herd in the hopes that it’s adopted by another cow, she said.

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