Cougar tranquilized, relocated after surprising Willard homeowners

Monday , October 02, 2017 - 3:50 PM1 comment

MARK SHENEFELT, Standard-Examiner Staff

WILLARD — When Nikki Wilson heard of the mountain lion in her neighbor’s tree, she immediately thought about her horses.

“I have colts, 2 and 3 years old, and he could take them out,” Wilson said.

But not to worry. Ensconced about 10 feet from the neighbor’s home, the cougar was content to stay in the tree Sunday morning, Oct. 1, until game officers shot it out of the foliage with a tranquilizer dart.

RELATED: Utah wildlife officials urge cougar caution, not 'paranoia' about wildlife

The adult male cougar was taken to Summit County and released into the wild there, in good shape, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Lt. David Beveridge said Monday.

Wilson said a neighbor alerted her to the treed cat at about 10 a.m.

“His dog was barking and looking up in the tree,” she said Monday.

“He was just chilling in the tree,” she said. “He didn’t look sick.”

Wilson recorded video of the tranquilizer shot and the cougar’s subsequent flight away from the homes, in an area between Interstate 15 and U.S. 89.

Beveridge said the animal was found about 200 yards away in brush. Biologist Chad Wilson said the cougar started waking up as officers were putting it into a cage for transportation, so they gave him a little more tranquilizer by injection.

Story continues below photo.

Summit County relocation often is chosen for captured Wasatch Front cougars “to take them away from urban areas so it won’t cause a problem,” Beveridge said. “It’s hopefully suitable for a cougar so it won’t get into trouble with people and cars.”

Beveridge, who supervises DWR’s Northern Region conservation officers, said there has not been an increase this year in cougar sightings.

“You can expect to see cougars anywhere along the foothills of the Wasatch Front,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s worse this year than any other year.”

The Ogden area was abuzz recently after a much-shared Facebook post claimed cougars attacked a dog in the foothills. Ogden Police and the DWR said in a recent story that they could not substantiate the report.

DWR spokesman Phil Douglass in Ogden said Sunday’s incident in Willard is a reminder that wildlife abounds close to the growing urbanized area.

“We get a few of these every year,” Douglass said. “It adds up to being something that happens, period. Animals are there, close to us. There’s steep, rocky terrain right there in the back yard of Willard.”

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SEmarkshenefelt.

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