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MILLCREEK — A mountain lion broke into a home through a sliding glass door in the foothills of Millcreek Canyon on Saturday. The man who discovered the animal walked away uninjured.
The incident happened about 11 a.m. Saturday when a man went to check on his family member's house and discovered the home was a little cold, said Scott Root, outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources. When the man went downstairs he saw a large hole in the sliding glass door and noticed several potted plants scattered around, with some plants appearing to have bites taken out of them.
Shortly after discovering the hole in the glass door, the man saw a mountain lion dart out of a corner and run back outside through the broken glass. Root said there was no blood at the scene, so they don't believe the animal was injured. Wildlife officials think the mountain lion saw itself in the reflection of the glass and pounced inside.
"Just kind of a surreal thing. Never seen one in my life," said Jon Hughes, the homeowner. "I'm really glad it wasn't mad at me."
Hughes said that at first, he thought it was raccoons when he saw the broken glass but when he looked up he saw the cougar at arm's length.
"It had no interest in me at all. It just kind of took off. It didn't even look back," said Hughes.
Officials aren't sure how long the mountain lion was inside before the man and discovered it, Root said. No mountain lion sightings have been reported in the area since the encounter, he added.
It's not uncommon for mountain lions to be in Utah's foothills this time of year since deer — a main food source — are typically down lower.
"That's probably why it was down in the foothills and worked its way down into the residential area," Root explained; however, that doesn't mean people should be worried about a mountain lion breaking into their home.
"It's very unusual," Root said. In his 30 years with the division, he can't recall another time a mountain lion has broken into someone's home like this. Although, he said he has seen other wildlife end up inside people's homes, like moose or deer that falls down a window well and accidentally breaks in.
"We don't want people to be totally afraid of mountain lions, just respect them," Root said. "We want people to feel like they can go outdoors, but there are some wise things to do … to minimize any chance that there could be a problem with a mountain lion."
In October, a Utah man came face to face with a mountain lion and her cubs. The cubs' mother followed the man for a harrowing six minutes before he was able to pick up a rock and scare her off.
While rare, if individuals do find themselves in front of a mountain lion, DWR says it's important to maintain eye contact, make yourself appear large, yell at the animal, and wave your arms around.
The DWR also advises not jogging in the foothills alone, especially at night. Mountain lions are more active in low-light conditions, Root said. Additionally, pet owners should consider keeping small pets indoors at night.
Typically, when a mountain lion encounters a human it will run away, like in Saturday's case, Root said. Most people will live their entire lives without seeing a mountain lion, he added. And even if they do, it's important to remember one simple thing.
"They're not out to get us," Root said.
Contributing: Dan Rascon, KSL TV