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BOUNTIFUL — Two cougars that were captured last week after off-and-on sightings in the Bountiful bench area for about a month were euthanized, city officials tweeted Friday.
The cougars were captured on Jan. 24. They were taken to biologists for testing, where it was recommended that they be euthanized, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources outreach manager Mark Hadley said.
The cougars were believed to be the same ones caught wandering along a ravine and through backyards earlier this month and also the ones seen after killing a deer in the backyard of a home in the area on Dec. 21, Hadley said.
After making a capture, wildlife officials bring the animals to biologists for testing. Animals are usually either relocated to the backcountry or euthanized. Sometimes animals are euthanized because they are sick. In this case, the cougars were euthanized after biologists determined both of them — males that were nearing two years in age — had shown signs they weren’t afraid of humans, according to officials. Biologists say that poses a public safety threat.
“Cougars are typically very secretive animals that are scared of people, so they don’t like people. When you start to see a cougar around urban areas and you start to see it a lot, that’s an indication that the animal is starting to lose its fear of people,” Hadley explained. “When an animal starts losing its fear of people, it hasn’t lost its instincts as a wild animal so that’s where it starts to get scary.”
The Division of Wildlife Resources has confirmed that two cougars were euthanized last week in Bountiful per their policy. The two predators were taken last Friday on the Bountiful bench.— Bountiful City (@BountifulCityUT) January 31, 2020
He added that’s when it’s possible cougars could attack humans or pets. The decision to euthanize, Hadley said, was the last-resort option that had to be made.
Biologists decided they couldn’t relocate the animals because they feared they would just return to an urban area or they would be located in areas where the state has seen a decline in deer populations. The division’s concern about deer population in some areas of the state sparked DWR director Mike Fowlks to issue a 117-cougar harvest objective change to the state’s cougar hunting guidebook two weeks ago as a way to lower deer predators.
“This is a part of our job that we hate. The last thing that we want to do is have to euthanize an animal,” Hadley said. “We love wildlife and we love to see wildlife prosper and do well, but to protect the public and other wildlife species out on the landscape that needs protection too, those things — a lot of times — will force us to do euthanasia. That was what happened in this situation.”