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Cougar put down after being captured in Mt. Olympus

By John Daley | Posted - Sep. 27, 2011 at 7:21 p.m.

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MILLCREEK -- Wildlife officers captured a cougar today in an east bench Salt Lake neighborhood. People saw a big cat there a few days ago. But was it the same one?

Neighbors in Millcreek saw the cougar early this morning and called police. It took wildlife officers three hours to finally tranquilize and remove it, and they captured it in a resident's back yard.

Initially when the citizen called and was walking by here, it was sitting right here on the retaining wall right behind us here," said Sgt. Jeff Evans of the Unified Police Department.

The was no doubt - it was a cougar. It scrambled into Mill Creek, up the embankment and into one homeowner's backyard. Soon a crowd of neighbors gathered, taking pictures as wildlife officers arrived.

"They said ‘mountain lion,' and immediately I thought of the MGM Lion, right"? said resident Carolyn Russel. "No - it was a cougar but it was huge. It was about 160 pounds and it was absolutely beautiful, even though it was skinny and old."

No - it was a cougar, but it was huge. It was about 160 pounds and it was absolutely beautiful, even though it was skinny and old.

–Carolyn Russell

State wildlife officers tranquilized it, caged it and took it away. One officer says it's likely the cougar was the same one spotted nearby a few weeks ago.

"Yeah, I believe so," said Lt. Scott White, of the Department of Wildlife Resources. "This animal was an extremely old female. Once we got her tranquilized and hands on, we evaluated her. She didn't have any teeth left. Her incisors and her canines were worn down to just about nothing."

White says due to its condition, the cougar was put down.

"You just had to feel empathy for it. You know. I don't want to run into one of those in the dark, but I felt great empathy for this beautiful animal," Russel said.

Wildlife officers say that if you encounter a cougar in your neighborhood, keep your distance and give them a call.

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