Wanship man encounters cougar | ParkRecord.com

Wanship man encounters cougar

Sarah Moffitt

A Wanship man came face to face with a cougar Friday afternoon while working in his yard.

Troy Vincent, who lives below the Wanship Dam, was walking around his fence when he looked up and saw a cougar that had just come around the corner.

"He reacted by standing up fully and kicking at the cougar, who at the same time swatted at him," said Ron Hodson, Regional Supervisor for Utah Department of Wildlife Northern Region.

The cougar did not inflict any damage and Vincent kicked the cougar again, this time in the mouth. The cougar’s tooth punctured Vincent’s plastic shoes, leaving a mark on his toe but no major injury.

"The cougar turned and ran off through the neighbor’s yard and towards the hills," said Hodson. "We haven’t seen the cat since."

The Department of Wildlife Resources tried to find the animal that day but it was too hot for the dogs to pick up a scent according to Hodson. They used tracking dogs over the weekend and on Monday but were unable to find a trail and have determined it is not in the area anymore.

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"Cougars have a very large home-range and usually make a circuit around it. There have been multiple reports of cougar sightings in the past few months near Rockport State Park. We can’t be sure if it is the same cat though," said Hodson.

Rockport State Park manager Joe Donnell said on Monday that he had not yet been alerted of the cougar incident and had had no reports of sightings in the state park over the weekend but was ready to take action if notified to do so.

"We don’t think it had any intent to attack," said Hodson. "But a cat getting used to living in a residential area and being where there is lots of people means it would be prudent of us to euthanize it if we catch it."

"If it was a one-time sighting it wouldn’t be a big deal," said Donnell. "But if it is getting used to humans then we have to deal with it."

Hodson said that while they can not know for sure which cougar it was, Vincent was fairly confident that the cougar was a male, and if they find a male that is similar in size, they will consider it their cat.

"There is no point in us tracking it continually. But if there is another sighting we will bring the dogs back out, and if we catch one we will go from there," said Hodson.

Multiple cougars’ territories could overlap according to Hodson, and if a cat is removed from its territory another will move in.

"The man performed very well in a face-to-face encounter with a cougar," said Hodson. "If someone backs away or runs from a cougar it can trigger a predatory response and then the cougar could attack."

If residents see a cougar they are encouraged to make themselves large and create a lot of noise.

"Don’t back down, chances are the cougar is just as scared of you as you are of it," said Hodson.

If a cougar is seen call the Utah Department of Wildlife at (801)476-2740