Utah wildlife officer kills mountain lion in Park City
The animal remained in a neighborhood for extended period
A state wildlife officer on Tuesday evening shot and killed a mountain lion in Park City after the animal remained in a lower Deer Valley neighborhood for an extended period and lunged at a police officer, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said.
The Park City Police Department received a report of the mountain lion at 7:48 p.m. Tuesday on the 300 block of McHenry Avenue. The police said the agency also received an earlier report in the same area on Monday at 8:15 p.m.
Scott Root, who is the Division of Wildlife Resources’ conservation outreach manager for the area that includes Summit County, said there are residences above and below where the mountain lion was seen. The animal at one point was in a backyard for most of the time over the course of a couple days, he said.
Root said a family, including four grandchildren, attempted to scare the animal off by banging pots and pans. The mountain lion left but returned the next day, he said.
The Police Department responded. Root was told the mountain lion went for an officer. He said mountain lions typically flee in similar situations when confronted.
“The lion would not run away,” he said.
Root said the Division of Wildlife Resources responded on Tuesday evening.
“We realized this wasn’t a typical mountain lion that runs off when you scare it,” Root said, adding that the wildlife officials did not want the animal “in a residential area.”
He said the Division of Wildlife Resources decided against tranquilizing and relocating the mountain lion to a remote area. He said that assessment was based on the aggressiveness of the mountain lion, that it was not afraid of humans and that it had been in a neighborhood for so long.
The mountain lion was a young female. Root said the ribs of the animal were visible through the fur, explaining that the visible ribs could have been a sign of malnutrition. The carcass was taken for testing.
“We never like putting wildlife down. We love wildlife,” he said. “We know what we did was the right thing for public safety.”
The Park City Police Department occasionally receives reports of mountain lion sightings, including in locations in the vicinity of residences. It is rare that state wildlife officers opt to kill one inside the Park City limits, though. It is also highly unusual for one to lunge at a person inside Park City.
The mountain lions are drawn to the Park City area by prey animals like deer. There is sometimes an uptick in sightings in the fall as snow starts to cover the upper elevations. The prey animals move to lower elevations at that point in search of vegetation as their food source. The mountain lions follow the prey animals to the lower elevations.
One of the recent cases involved a mountain lion on the grounds of the McPolin Farm. The mountain lion in that case climbed into a tree to escape a dog that was in pursuit.
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A member of the Park City Council on Thursday remained especially concerned about the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. City councilor Steve Joyce delivered some of the notable comments during a meeting between Park City’s elected officials and Phil Bondurant, who is the Summit County health director.