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Pleasant Grove family finds cougar hanging out in backyard

Posted at 9:53 PM, Aug 19, 2020

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — A Pleasant Grove neighborhood is feeling relieved, after the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources captured a cougar roaming through the area.

Neighbors said the cat had been hanging out for a few days, making appearances in people's yards.

Close to the mountains, Sasha Starr's backyard is an oasis.

The 12-year old showed off her family's pond, complete with Koy fish. Water trickled out of a fountain, splashing into the blue pool below.

She talked about how hummingbirds love to feed from the family's trumpet flowers.

Other animals often come to visit, like deer, moose, and skunks.

As Sasha looked out the window a few days ago, she noticed a new four-legged friend hanging out in the grass.

At first, she thought it was a deer.

"I saw the tail, and it turned around and had the big whiskers, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, it's a cougar!'" she exclaimed.

Immediately running upstairs, Sasha told her parents.

"First of all, I really love cats," Sasha said. "So I was like, 'Oh my gosh, that's so cool.'"

Chris Schow looked out the window to see what his daughter was talking about.

"It was exciting," he said. "But on other hand, it was like, uh there's kids in the neighborhoods, people's pets. I don't know if I want this hanging around in the backyard."

Chris called police, and he said they responded. But the elusive cat already skedaddled, and they couldn't find it.

A few hours later, it reappeared.

"I was closing some blinds upstairs and looked out, and it was over here drinking out of a bucket," Chris recounted.

This time, Chris recorded the big cat, and called 911 again.

As they recorded, the family noticed something unusual.

"It looks like it's sick," Chris says, in the video. "Oh, it's got a broken leg."

"Oh no!" Sasha gasps.

The cougar, with front left leg clearly broken, hobbled across the yard and began to drink out of another pool of water.

"When I saw it limping, it made me kind of sad," Sasha said. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, it's injured!'"

Not only injured, but emaciated and sick-- even leaving behind a few unpleasant piles of puke in the yard.

The family said police and DWR again responded and spent quite a bit of time trying to capture the feline.

Chris said the cougar escaped. They didn't see it the next day until late at night, when Chris almost came face-to-face with the cat in the dark.

"Monday night about 10 o'clock, I brought our dogs out to go to the bathroom," Chris explained. "The cougar was sitting down here at the bottom of the hill and we were up on top of the hill and staring back at it."

He said the cougar ran off.

Fast forward to Wednesday. At this point, he said DWR set out traps and trail cams-- even a deer carcass to lure the cat back.

Wildlife officers finally caught the cougar about a block away from Chris' home.

They said the young female feline was too sick and injured to save.

"Because it had a broken leg, and there was a bone protruding, and it was pretty emaciated, it wasn't doing very well," said DWR spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolley.

"And so unfortunately, it did have to be euthanized."

She said normally, they would try to relocate the animal. But with no big game rehabilitation facility in Utah, she indicated that there wasn't anything they could do.

The fact that a cougar turned up in a neighborhood and had been hanging out in broad daylight is uncommon, and Jolley said that could have been due to several reasons.

She said if anyone finds a cougar in their yard or neighborhood, they should contact DWR and keep all pets and children inside.

That's what Chris did with his family. They wouldn't let anyone into the backyard until they found out the cougar was captured.

While the euthanasia is not necessarily the outcome Sasha hoped for, she said she understands why it happened.

"Yeah," she said. "It was not well."

Still, she won't forget her furry friend and said, "it was a very amazing site to see."