Mountain lion seen again |

Mountain lion seen again

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Another person told the Park City Police Department they saw a mountain lion in Park Meadows, a second sighting in the neighborhood in less than a week.

The authorities are releasing little information about the second report, made in the morning on Dec. 20, but the big cat was seen in the vicinity of the first one. Wildlife officials are unsure if the second animal was a mountain lion, and they say people often make erroneous reports of sightings after one is reported.

According to the Police Department, a person told dispatchers they saw a mountain lion on Little Kate Road while they were jogging at 6:15 a.m. The police received the report more than two hours later, at 8:35 a.m.

Jim Snyder, a Police Department sergeant, said officers searched for the mountain lion for about an hour but did not find the animal. He was unsure where the officers looked. The police later called state wildlife officials to handle the case.

Little Kate Road is generally a densely packed residential street, and the Racquet Club sits on the road. Public police logs do not provide details about where on the street the animal was seen.

The road is just north of Lucky John Drive, the street where a mountain lion was seen on Dec. 15. In that case, a woman saw a mountain lion staring through a window at a dog before it walked away.

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Craig Clyde, a wildlife biologist with the state Division on Wildlife Resources, said Monday morning he had not been briefed about the second sighting. He said it is difficult to determine whether the same mountain lion was seen in both instances and whether the Little Kate Road animal is a mountain lion.

If the second animal is a mountain lion, Clyde said it is probably the same big cat as the one seen on Lucky John Drive or it is part of the same family of mother and cubs.

He said the odds are the Little Kate Road sighting was not a mountain lion. Once one sighting is publicized, erroneous reports often follow, Clyde said. He estimates 80 percent of sightings after an initial one are false, with many people mistaking big dogs for mountain lions.

"We get a lot of calls that can’t be confirmed," Clyde said.

He said mountain lions typically do not stay in an area unless there food readily available. Deer, which are prey for mountain lions, are plentiful in the area, and other wildlife lives in the mountains.

After the first sighting, Clyde had said the mountain lion probably does not live in the Park City area. He said before the most recent sighting it was likely the animal was "wandering through."

Teri Thomas, who reported the Lucky John Drive sighting, said she has not seen a mountain lion since the Dec. 15 encounter. She has not seen tracks, either, but she prefers the mountain lion leave the neighborhood. The animal and people will be safer if it is out of Park Meadows, she said.

Clyde said Parkites should not be worried, but he urges that they be cautious. People should not feed pets outside, and they should not let small pets outside on their own. He said adults should accompany kids outside.

Clyde said mountain lions are more active at night, when they normally hunt. People should watch for tracks and listen for hissing or growling noises.

If attacked, fight back

The Sacramento, Calif.- based Mountain Lion Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the animals, says people rarely encounter mountain lions, but they should take precautions if they do.

Some tips from the foundation include:

( If the mountain lion attacks, fight the animal.

( Do not run from a mountain lion, which the foundation says could "trigger their instinct to chase." Make eye contact and pick up children. Try to pick up kids without bending down or turning your back on the animal.

( Do not bend over or crouch, which the foundation says makes people look like four-legged animals mountain lions prey on.

( Make yourself look bigger by opening a jacket or raising your arms. Throw stones, branches or other objects at the animal.

( Don’t put pet food outside and keep pets secure.

( Make sure children are supervised outside, particularly at night.