Cougar sighted near Jeremy |

Cougar sighted near Jeremy

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

While hiking June 16 near Jeremy Ranch, a Snyderville Basin woman said she spotted a cougar.

"Normally, they are very secretive," state Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer Dave Swenson said.

A homeowners association in Jeremy Ranch reported the sighting, he said.

"They live with us, but they’re very seldom seen," Swenson said.

Nobody in Utah has been killed by a cougar in recorded history, he explained.

"I’ve probably seen seven or eight cougars," Swenson said about his 27-year career as a game warden. "And I’m out all the time."

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About 90 percent of a cougar’s diet consists of deer, he said.

"They follow the deer herds and they’re all around us," he said.

Hunters in Utah killed 306 cougars last year and about 300 mountain lions could be shot in the 2008-2009 hunting season, according to DWR Mammals Coordinator Kevin Bunnell.

"From the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, an effort was underway to reduce the number of cougars in certain parts of Utah," Bunnell said in a prepared statement. "The goal was to bring cougars and the deer, bighorn sheep and other animals that cougars prey on into better balance."

It appears the effort worked, Bunnell said.

"Over the past couple of years, the number of cougars in Utah has started to stabilize," he said. "Now we’re working to find the proper balance between cougars and their prey."

The number of hunting permits the DWR is recommending this year is almost identical to 2007, he explained.