Sandy neighborhood wants mountain lion caught

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SANDY -- Some Sandy residents say they've got an animal problem, and they want state wildlife officials to catch it.

The cougar -- also known as the mountain lion, puma or panther -- is one of North America's largest cats and is recognized by its tawny color and long tail.

Those who live in the Pepperwood neighborhood say they have a mountain lion in their midst. They're worried if it's not captured soon, a pet or small child could get hurt or killed.

The Springer kids are spending as much time in their backyard as they can during the day. Once the sun goes down, they aren't allowed outside.

"Sleeping on trampolines, and night games, and tag; and it's limited the kids that they pretty much, the parents won't let them come out at night," says Pepperwood resident Andy Bingham.

The homeowners believe a cougar is stalking their neighborhood.

"The first sighting was about four years ago, and we haven't had any sightings of it killing anything until this summer," Bingham says.

Pepperwood has a steady population of deer year-round. But this summer, the deer population has suffered some causalities -- and the remnants have ended up in residents' yards, along with a few mutilated domestic cats.

Cougars live all across Utah, from the high Uintah Wilderness to the dry southern Utah deserts. Their main prey is deer, so cougars are often found close to deer.

Some homeowners say they've seen the cougar at night, and have heard its suffering prey.

"The shrills of a deer, I guess fighting for life, is pretty loud; scary," Bingham says.

"Whenever you have a deer in an area, cougars are going to move in to prey on those deer populations," says Craig Clyde, with the state Division of Wildlife Resources.

Clyde says his agency hasn't been able to confirm a mountain lion living in Pepperwood, but it's very possible.

Cougars rarely cause problems for humans. In fact, you are more likely to be killed by a vending machine than to be attacked or killed by a cougar. -Div. of Wildlife Resources

The DWR takes the reports seriously but says cougars are stealth, and in this heat it's difficult for their dogs to track the cat's scent.

If the agency receives a report of another citing, workers will check it out. In the meantime, they advise the neighbors to carefully watch their children and pets -- which is of little comfort to the residents, who want DWR to actively to trap the cat.

"It just concerns us, and we hope that something can be done about it before it escalates and gets worse," says Pepperwood resident Mark Springer.

DWR says its best shot to catch the cougar would be if it ended up in someone's garage, or stuck in a tree.

Officials say if you come in contact with a cougar, don't run. They say you should make eye contact with the animal and act intimidating. CLICK HERE for more safety tips.



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Jennifer Stagg


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