Park City police told of mountain lion sightings
The Park City Police Department has recently received at least three reports of mountain lions, including one sighting on the edge of tightly packed Old Town, a set of cases that roughly coincided with snow at all the area’s elevations.
The Park City area provides mountain lion habitat, but sightings are rare. The most recent cases followed shortly after a driver accidentally hit and killed a mountain lion along the S.R. 224 entryway.
The cases logged by the Police Department include:
• on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 5:10 p.m., someone reported seeing a mountain lion on Oak Wood Drive. The animal was seen running down the street and into a yard, according to Police Department logs. The person who contacted the police said the sighting occurred between 30 and 40 minutes prior to the call to the agency.
• on Friday, Dec. 21 at 8 a.m., a person on Red Tail Court contacted the police reporting they saw the tail of an animal believed to be a mountain lion. The tail was apparently seen through a camera viewfinder or on surveillance footage. The state Division of Wildlife Resources confirmed the image as showing a mountain lion tail.
• on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 6:21 p.m., someone reported seeing a mountain lion in the road at or close to one of the intersections of Marsac Avenue and Ontario Avenue. Tracks possibly left by a mountain lion were found, the Police Department said.
On Wednesday, Dec. 26, meanwhile, the police received a report from someone on Aspen Springs Drive about a person walking around a backyard with a flashlight. A homeowner apparently let a pet out and was looking for mountain lions with the flashlight, the police logs seemed to indicate.
Details about the cases were not immediately available. The Police Department occasionally receives reports of mountain lion sightings as well as reports of other sorts of wildlife.
Scott Root, the state Division of Wildlife Resources conservation outreach manager in the region that includes the Park City area, was not aware of the details of the cases other than the one involving the image of a tail. He said mountain lions typically remain in places where there is ample prey available, such as deer and elk. The prey animals are present in the Park City area.
“We don’t know how many. It’s possible to have more than one,” Root said about the number of mountain lions in the Park City area.
He said mountain lions by late December likely have moved to lower elevations based on the snowfall at the higher elevations. Mountain lion prey by late December would have descended from the upper elevations in search of vegetation to feed upon, prompting the predators to follow them to lower elevations.
The cases since Dec. 19 followed a high-profile incident involving a mountain lion on the S.R. 224 entryway that resulted in the animal’s death. A driver on Dec. 13 hit a mountain lion after the animal darted in front of a sport utility vehicle close to the McPolin Farm. The mountain lion died in the accident. The Police Department said the driver saw the animal running toward the vehicle just before the collision.
Another mountain lion report was logged earlier on Dec. 19, on Fairway Village Drive. The animal in the Fairway Village Drive case fled toward a hilly area after ice fell off a roof, the police were told.
The Division of Wildlife Resources would not take action against a mountain lion unless it is acting aggressively or seen in places like someone’s yard or garage. As a precaution, Root recommends people not hike alone, keep pets inside, closely watch young children and carry bear spray if they are worried about encountering a mountain lion.
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