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Cougar sightings are on the rise in Utah. Why?

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Posted at 3:10 PM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 17:10:35-05

SALT LAKE CITY — If it seems like mountain lion sightings are popping up in the news more often, you're right. But why is that?

According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, there are a few reasons.

First, cougar populations have increased over the past decade, DWR's Faith Heaton Jolley said. And although they typically avoid people and tend to hunt at dusk and dawn, sightings continue to increase.

Another reason: sightings usually increase in the wintertime. When there is heavy snow, the predators follow the deer to lower elevations.

And finally, the recent increase in doorbell cameras makes sightings more common. People are seeing recordings of the animals in or near their yards even if the residents aren't around or awake.

DWR officials advise that if Utahns do see a cougar in their yard regularly or if it seems to pose a safety threat, to contact one of their offices so they can safely relocate it.

And while sightings are up, reports of cougar attacks have not increased.

"It's pretty rare to have a cougar incident of any kind," Jolley said.

Jolley advised that anyone who encounters a cougar in person take these steps:

  • Stand your ground
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Make yourself big
  • Wave your arms, make noise
  • Don't run.