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Mountain lion euthanized after attacking woman, causing minor injuries

Posted at 5:03 PM, Sep 25, 2022

MILLCREEK, Utah — A mountain lion has been euthanized after it attacked a trail runner Sunday morning in Millcreek Canyon, causing minor injuries.

The woman was running with a friend on the Pipeline Trail around 8:30 a.m. when they rounded a corner and came face-to-face with the cougar that was also on the trail. This startled the cougar, and even though the two runners immediately started to back away, it leaped at them. One of the runners fell down and was clawed by the cougar on her leg, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokeswoman Faith Heaton Jolley.

The other runner hit the cougar with the rock, and it ran away from the trail. The runners were able to get away, and the cougar did not chase them.

The woman sustained two puncture wounds on her leg and was later treated and released from a local hospital, according to DWR.

Jolley said wildlife officers used trained hounds to search for the cougar in the area, and later provided an update that they had found and euthanized a cougar that they felt confident was the same one that injured the runner.

In an interview with FOX 13 News prior to the animal being found and euthanized, Jolley said the DWR hoped the cougar's scent would be fresh enough for the hounds to track down the specific cougar they were looking for.

It is DWR policy to euthanize any wild animal that injures a person. Jolley also said they will also test it for rabies out of precaution.

She added that the runners did the right thing by backing away, and she said DWR biologists believe the cougar was not actively stalking them or preying on them but was just startled.

Wild Aware Utah gives the following tips for staying safe in mountain lion country:

The main prey of cougars is deer, so they will be found wherever deer are. They will also eat elk, antelope, small mammals and birds.

PREVENTING CONFLICTS WHILE RECREATING

  • Do not hike or jog alone.
  • Travel in groups and keep everyone together including children and dogs.
  • Make noise while hiking to alert cougars of your presence.
  • Leave the area if you find a dead animal, especially deer or elk, it could be a cougar kill. The cougar may return and defend its food.
  • Keep a clean camp. Store food and garbage in an odor-free, locked container or hung between two trees where cougars (and bears) cannot get it.

IF YOU ENCOUNTER A COUGAR

  • Stop. Never run from a cougar. Do not approach the cougar.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Pick up children and pets or keep them very close.
  • Stand up tall.
  • Do not crouch or squat.
  • Make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head.
  • Talk firmly in a loud voice, back away slowly and leave the area.
  • Fight back if you are attacked! Protect your head and neck.
  • If you are aggressive enough the cougar will probably flee.

If you have an encounter with aggressive wildlife, please alert the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office near you. If the encounter or sighting occurs after hours or on the weekend, please call your local police department or county sheriff’s office, who can contact a conservation officer to handle the situation.