MURRAY (ABC4 News) – A rare cougar sighting was caught on at least three Murray residents’ home surveillance cameras over the weekend, prompting safety tips from wildlife officials to keep community members safe.
Scott Root, Conservation Outreach Manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said it’s extremely rare to spot a cougar in Murray, but it can happen.
“This year, it’s probably because of drought. It can also be because of a deer population and there are deer in Murray,” said Root.
All of the residents who provided surveillance footage to ABC4 News lived in the same area near 5700 South and 500 East behind Intermountain Healthcare’s Orthopedic Specialty Hospital and Fashion Place Mall.
One of those residents, Sarah Sly lives next to Little Cottonwood Creek where her four children and two dogs often play. Her doorbell camera caught the cougar walking across her front yard around 11:16 p.m. Friday.
“It’s not uncommon to see raccoons and foxes. Maybe even a deer. But never in a million years would I have thought it would have been a cougar,” said Sly. “It’s mind-blowing because you don’t expect it this far from the mountains.”
The other two sightings were at approximately 3:47 a.m. and 6:37 a.m. on the same day. Root said cougars are nocturnal animals, so they often appear around dusk or dawn. As a result, wildlife officials advised to always bring your children and pets inside when it’s dark and never leave them outside unattended during that time.
As a deterrent, residents should install outdoor and motion-sensitive lighting around your property. Trim vegetation and remove woodpiles to reduce hiding places for wildlife.
If you encounter a cougar, don’t run. Maintain eye contact, stand up tall, make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms above your head, talk firmly in a loud voice, back away slowly, and leave the area.
“We want people to be safe and mountain lions aren’t necessarily out to get us. But we just don’t want anything to happen if there’s a confrontation between a cougar and a person,” said Root.
As of Monday afternoon, Root said they had not made any cougar captures in the Murray area.
If you spot or have an encounter with a cougar, you can alert the nearest Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office to you. If it’s after hours or on the weekend, contact your local police department or county sheriff’s office, who can contact a conservation officer to handle the situation.
For more tips and information, visit Wild Aware Utah’s website.