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Holladay Journal

Mountain lion surprises Holladay family on Easter weekend

May 29, 2022 01:39PM ● By Sona Schmidt Harris

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

The Davies family are accustomed to nature. In fact, deer frequent their property on Holladay Boulevard. But when a deer turned up dead one day and covered with plant debris the next, Jennifer Davies wondered if it could be some sort of strange, ritualistic killing.

To catch the perpetrator, she set up a camera where the deer was found. Upon checking the footage the next day, to her surprise the blazing eyes of a cougar greeted her. The perpetrator wasn’t human after all.

I was concerned,” Davies said. “My neighbors—they have dogs and a cat. They’re always let outside. I have small children that are out here.”

Not far from the Davies’ home is Knudsen Park and several restaurants. “My main concern was just the safety of the community,” Davies said.

To encourage the safety of residents, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) noted in a press release that cougar numbers in Utah have been growing steadily. They also noted that deer are the main prey of cougars (also called mountain lions), so cougars can be found wherever deer are, as was true in the Davies case.

Also typical in the Davies case is the fact that the cougar covered the deer with plant debris.

“People are the most likely to encounter cougars in areas frequented by mule deer and during the early morning and at dusk, when cougars are most likely to be hunting,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Game Mammals Coordinator Darren DeBloois said. 

You should report a cougar sighting if it has killed something in a neighborhood or yard, exhibits aggressive behavior, or appears several times on your security cameras. One-time sightings of cougars are typically when it is moving through an area.

The Utah DWR has the following safety tips to avoid conflict with cougars: do not hike or jog alone; maintain awareness in cougar country while hiking or jogging and avoid using headphones that block your surroundings; 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 a deer or elk, since it could be a cougar kill; if you live in an area near deer habitat, do not leave children outside unattended, especially at dawn and dusk; as a deterrent, install outside and motion-sensitive lighting around your property; trim vegetation and remove wood piles to reduce hiding places for wildlife; and bring pets and livestock inside at night or secure them in a barn or kennel with a top.

If you encounter a cougar, the DWR suggests the following: never run from a cougar; maintain eye contact; pick up children and pets or keep them very close; stand up tall; do not crouch or squat; make yourself bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head; talk firmly in a loud voice, back away and leave the area; fight back if you are attacked and protect your head and neck.

While living in tree-canopied Holladay has lovely benefits, cougars follow where there are deer, which linger in leafy areas. A little cougar awareness goes a long way. Just ask the Davies family.