BOUNTIFUL, UT. — Bountiful residents are on high alert after many of them claim cougars have been roaming around their neighborhood. While this community is no stranger to cougar sightings, they’re on guard after one resident’s dog was allegedly attacked by one and nearly died.
Jeffrey Vanwagenen has lived in Bountiful for 16 years.
“When we first moved in, we went to church and someone said ‘be cautious there’s a wildcat or cougar that’s been spotted on our street’ and we thought where did we just move to?” Vanwagenen said.
Vanwagenen thought it was a cougar bite but took his dog Kaiser to the vet just to be sure.
“The vet said ‘yeah, there were four bite marks, you could see top fangs, lower fangs and you could see it pulled the skin away,’” Vanwagenen said.
Kaiser was taken into surgery and the vet said he was lucky to be alive.
“He’s actually recovering pretty well but I’ve been worked up. I’m worried that it’s going to come back. After the vet bill, I thought well rather than a second vet bill it’s better to buy three more ring cameras for the outside of the house,” Vanwagenen said.
Vanwagenen is determined to catch the cougar in action especially since his neighbor down the road saw one in their driveway 2 weeks ago.
“This early in the year has me a little worried about what are we going to be facing when it’s really snowy…when they really do come down,” Vanwagenen said.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says the cougar population has increased in Utah over the last decade.
“A lot of times in the winter when it’s snowy, that kind of pushes the deer to lower elevation areas and so the cougars will follow them there,” Public Information Officer Faith Heaton Jolly said.
Jolly said residents should take their pets inside and not leave any food out if there are reported cougar sightings in the area. She told ABC4 that if you see a cougar that is acting strangely or just hanging around, to call the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources so they come and assess the situation.
“Most of the time when we respond, we like to try to relocate these animals when possible just back to the mountains. Back to their more natural habitat area, so that it does reduce that public safety concern and also any potential vehicle collisions as well,” Jolly said.
“It can be a little unsettling to know there are big predators in your area. But honestly, you know cougar attacks on a person are very rare here in the U.S.” Jolly said