Two more see mountain lion |

Two more see mountain lion

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Two people, including a snowplow driver in the busy Prospector business district, reported seeing a mountain lion midweek, the third and fourth sightings in Park City in less than two weeks.

The most recent sightings prompted state wildlife officials to consider contacting someone who tracks mountain lions to try to chase the animal out of the city. The Division of Wildlife Resources said Friday it would not try to destroy the beast, but people holding the proper hunting permits can kill the animal.

According to the Park City Police Department, one of the two recent sightings occurred at the Sidewinder Drive-Gold Dust Lane intersection in Prospector, across Park City from where the earlier cases were reported.

That location is heavily traveled, but it sits near the expansive open space off the Rail Trail. Steve Hirzel, a Park City police officer, said a Public Works Department snowplow driver saw the mountain lion walking in a circle before crawling under a car at about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Troy Dayley, the Public Works official who supervises snowplow drivers, said the driver saw the mountain lion run across a street and underneath a parked car. The driver stopped the snowplow and shined the headlights toward under the car, Dayley said.

The mountain lion then fled from underneath the car, ran through a parking lot and disappeared toward Poison Creek and the Rail Trail, according to Dayley.

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"There was no doubt that’s what it was," Dayley said, adding, "It’s the buzz going around the shop — there was a mountain lion running around Prospector."

In the other case, someone saw a mountain lion on a porch on Lucky John Drive, the same street where the first sighting, in mid-December, occurred. Details about the Lucky John Drive sighting were not available.

"One of the major concerns was the lion would not be hurt," Hirzel said about the person who called the police.

The two reports come days after the first two sightings, each made in Park Meadows. Wildlife officials say the Park City area, ringed with mountains and with plentiful mountain lion prey, is a prime place for the animals.

In the previous cases, a jogger saw a mountain lion on Little Kate Road in the morning and one of the animals was seen peering into a window in a Lucky John Drive house.

Craig Clyde, a state wildlife biologist, said people might have seen the same mountain lion, and, if there is enough prey, the animal might stay in the area. Deer and elk, two prey items for mountain lions, are plentiful in the Park City area. He said there might be more than one in the area, perhaps a mother and her cubs.

Clyde left open the option of trying to chase the mountain lion out of the area. He said people with hunting dogs and the proper license could be contacted. The dogs would try to track the mountain lion. If they pick up its scent, they would then attempt to scare the mountain lion out of Park City, he said.

He would call for the hunting dogs if the mountain lion is seen more frequently and if it becomes aggressive.

Sometimes, wildlife officials say, after an initial sighting of a mountain lion, erroneous reports follow. People mistake big dogs and other animals for mountain lions, they say.

Dayley from Public Works, though, said the snowplow driver is certain he saw a mountain lion in Prospector.

"He wasn’t pulling anyone’s leg," he said.