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AMERICAN FORK — An American Fork family got quite a shock after discovering a cougar in their garage Tuesday afternoon.
American Fork Police Chief Lance Call said police received a tip around 12:30 p.m. about a bobcat being discovered in a residential area near the LDS temple. A teenage boy had walked into the garage of his home and discovered the animal inside, Call said. The animal snarled at the teen and the teen ran inside the house.
Police officers and an animal control officer were dispatched to the scene where they discovered that the animal was actually a cougar so they called Division of Wildlife Resources officials.
DWR wildlife technician Josee Seamons said he was dispatched to the house around 1 p.m. He said the cougar had backed into a corner of the garage and was hiding under some shelves.
"I think it was more scared than the people were," Seamons said. "The kid kind of scared it so it really wasn't going to go anywhere."
Seamons said the animal was shot with a tranquilizer dart and was removed from the garage. He said that because the Wasatch Front is a "no tolerance zone" for cougars, the animal will have to be put down.
"We follow our policy which dictates what we do," said DWR wildlife program manager Covy Jones. "We do have a no tolerance zone. But in addition to that, this is the middle of the day — a cougar in the middle of the day in the middle of a town. It's not normal cougar behavior."
Call said police had received multiple calls of cougar sightings with reports on Sunday in Alpine and reports of sightings in Cedar Hills on Monday. Call said officers figured it was the same animal moving through the community.
Jones said that people should contact DWR officials whenever there are animal sightings or problems in their neighborhoods.
"(People need) to be aware that we live in an area where we have large predators," he said. "We just need to be aware and cognizant and careful, I think. With cougars, don't run. That will trigger a prey response. Make some noise and back away. Let them know you are there, and you are big and make them aware."