Mountain lion startles woman in Park Meadows |

Mountain lion startles woman in Park Meadows

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Teri Thomas was asleep in her Lucky John Drive home late Saturday night when her pet miniature poodle woke her up, barking and scratching at a window to try to get outside.

Thomas figured she should try to protect the furniture from her pet. She leaned down and glanced out the window. Outside, just three or four inches from the window, sat a mountain lion staring inside, startling Thomas as she tried to calm her dog.

"I leapt back and screamed," Thomas says of the encounter with the big cat.

The mountain lion was sniffing a crack in the window as it looked inside. It was probably 6 feet long, Thomas estimates, and it was still as it was outside the window.

Thomas screamed again. The mountain lion casually walked away.

"We were a total of one pane of glass and 12 inches apart," she says.

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The Saturday encounter is a rare occurrence in Park City. People in the city hardly ever spot mountain lions, which tend to be found in more remote areas. But Park City is ringed with mountains, and deer, which mountain lions prey on, are plentiful in the area.

Craig Clyde, a wildlife biologist with the state Division of Wildlife Resources who investigated the Park Meadows case, says deer usually leave the Park City area during the winter. Mountain lions usually would follow the deer.

He says the mountain lion probably does not live nearby.

"I think it’s probably a cat that’s wandering through," Clyde says.

He says Parkites should not be worried, but they should be cautious. Clyde says the mountain lion has likely already left the area, and there is a "better chance of being hit by lightning" than being attacked by a mountain lion.

He suggests people take precautions however. He says pets should be fed inside, and, if there is a cougar in the area, pets and kids should not go outside without an adult.

Clyde says Parkites should watch for tracks in the snow and listen for hissing or growling noises. The animals are more active at night, and they hunt at nighttime.

The Park City area is well known for its deer population, and, rarely, bears are seen in the mountains around Park City. Someone in October told the police they saw a wolf in Deer Valley, another rare sighting. Moose are frequently seen, with them sometimes ambling into neighborhoods like Old Town.

Thomas on Lucky John Drive says she found paw prints in the snow outside her house and she says the mountain lion jumped over a 5-foot-tall fence. She reports one of her neighbors saw the mountain lion about four houses away. It was exiting a side yard when the neighbor saw the mountain lion while driving, Thomas says.

She says officials told her mountain lions will try to crawl through dog doors.

"The cat will follow the food," an official told Thomas.