Mountain lion attacks hunter in Summit County | ParkRecord.com

Mountain lion attacks hunter in Summit County

A mountain lion attacked a hunter over the weekend in Summit County, a rare encounter that resulted in minor injuries and emotional trauma for the victim, according to Phil Douglass, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources' outreach manager.

"That is only the second encounter that I've known about in my 32 years where there was actual physical contact," he said. "There have been some close calls, but nothing like this recently."

The incident occurred at around 6:45 a.m. Saturday morning about a mile north of the Utah State Fish Hatchery in Kamas near the Mirror Lake Highway in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache-National Forest. Douglass described the area as remote.

The hunter, a 33-year-old man, planned to meet his father in the area to participate in the opening day of the archery deer and elk hunt, Douglass said. He said the mountain lion was in a crouched position when the man came across it. He was alone at the time.

“That is only the second encounter that I’ve known about in my 32 years where there was actual physical contact,” said Phil Douglass, outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Recommended Stories For You

"It lunged at him and he fired a shot from his bow that actually missed," he said. "The animal came down on him and that's when the scratches occurred. It charged him and came back a couple more times, but left after the third time."

Douglass said the victim was lucky and described the injuries as minor. The encounter resulted in scratches to the man's chest and a puncture wound to his leg.

"There wasn't much physical harm, but as you can imagine there was emotional trauma," he said.

Douglass said two officers from the Division of Wildlife Resources responded to the area after the attack occurred. They found some hair from the mountain lion and attempted to track the animal with hounds, but were unable to locate it on Saturday.

The officers returned on Sunday and located small mountain lion tracks in the general vicinity of where the attack occurred. They were still searching for the animal as of Monday.

"The animal will be euthanized because of the physical contact," Douglass said.

Douglass said the encounter should serve as a reminder to people that "we live in an area that intersects with wildlife."

"We are a growing urban society, and when we have these kinds of incidents, we recommend people become aware of the things they can do," he said. "We want them to know what they can do to keep an encounter from becoming a conflict because people and wildlife can get hurt. Public safety and wildlife conservation are priorities for us."

Douglass said the first thing to remember during a mountain lion encounter is to stop. He said people should never run because it elicits a predatory response from a "very capable and effective predator." He suggested appearing large by flailing arms and talking in a stern voice.

If the encounter turns into an attack, people are advised to fight back by protecting their head and neck.

"I like to go into these areas like everyone else," Douglass said. "I love living in the state, but I take responsibility and part of that responsibility is to do the very best you can to avoid a conflict. But, sometimes you have an encounter so the best thing you can do is be aware of what to do in that situation."

For more information about living with and encountering wildlife, go to wildlife.utah.gov or wildawareutah.org. Wild Aware Utah is a collaborative effort between the Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah State University to create awareness and minimize conflicts with the area's wildlife.

If you encounter a mountain lion:

-Stop. Never run from a mountain lion. Do not approach the mountain lion.

-Maintain eye contact.

-Pick up children and pets or keep them very close.

-Stand up tall.

-Do not crouch or squat.

-Make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head.

-Talk firmly in a loud voice, back away slowly and leave the area.

-Fight back if you are attacked! Protect your head and neck.

-If you are aggressive enough the mountain lion will probably flee.

-Information courtesy of Wild Aware Utah