Wildlife shootings raise concerns
Ryan Summerlin February 5, 2013
The shootings of a female cougar and her two cubs in Woodland last week have raised concerns over the necessity of the killings.
The three mountain lions were shot by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) personnel after they apparently injured one dog and killed another in Woodland.
One resident reportedly heard what sounded like a dog fight outside her home on the evening of Monday, Jan. 28. She went outside and discovered a mountain lion attacking her border collie.
The mountain lion ran away but not before injuring her dog, primarily on its body and head.
The following morning, another resident found his labrador/blue heeler mix dead in its kennel.
Tracks lead the DWR personnel to the first mountain lion, which was euthanized. The two other mountain lions were found by early afternoon and were also euthanized.
"I think that was a really heavy-handed and extreme measure," part-time Park City resident Mike Ascani said. "I think they could have been relocated. Utah is a big state."
Ascani added that the DWR is supposed to protect wildlife.
"I have a problem with them killing three mountain lions, especially a mother with cubs. That’s a really valuable link in the ecosystem," he said, adding they were just hungry and looking for a food source.
"I feel like there is another way to handle these situations by relocating them to places where we are not encroaching on their areas. Even if they are deemed threatening, that’s not their fault."
Ascani said that people in those areas need to be aware that they are living amid wildlife.
"I think they are partially at fault as well," he said.
DWR spokesman Phil Douglass said he’s had a lot of questions concerning the euthanizations of the mountain lions, but said it was a public safety issue.
"I think there is a misconception out there that this was the easiest thing for us to do," he said. "But that’s not the case at all. My policy is to protect public safety."
As a wildlife conservation agency, the DWR is the guardian and trustee of Utah’s wildlife, he said.
"Putting an animal down is not taken lightly," he said. "There has to be some significant reason for doing it. Mountain lions have a big range, and relocating mountain lions is just really problematic."
Douglass added that the mountain lions had come into town and found an easy prey source.
"The possibility of them returning was too great a risk to take," he said.