Here kitty kitty: Mountain lion drops in on Washington family home (video)

WASHINGTON CITY — A young family awoke Monday morning to the face of a 70-pound mountain lion staring at them from the window well of their Green Springs home, prompting a call to authorities to subdue, remove and relocate the wild animal.

A mountain lion invaded the window well of a Green Springs home on the 700 block of West Morby Street, in Washington, Utah, April 25, 2016 | Submitted image, St. George News
A mountain lion invaded the window well of a Green Springs home on the 700 block of West Morby Street, in Washington, Utah, April 25, 2016 | Submitted image, St. George News

“My girls saw it at 7 o’clock this morning through the window,” the homeowner said. “You have to go through that door to go to the toilet and they said they walked through and there’s this face staring at them through the window. They were shaking.”

The peeping Tom mountain lion, who could have easily climbed out of the window well, made himself comfortable in front of the window and seemed to have no intention of leaving anytime soon.

“I’ve taken them out of window wells probably a half a dozen times over the years,” said Clint Mecham, predator specialist for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “I don’t know why – if it’s warm down in there or they just feel secure.”

Prior to Mecham’s arrival, the Washington City Police Department had detained the mountain lion by placing a board over the window well in the event the lion tried to make a run for it and offend again.

Mecham, who has been doing lion research for the State of Utah since 1985, arrived and assessed the lion through the window to get an idea of the lion’s size and to see if it was healthy.

“We need to get a pretty close estimate of its weight to tranquilize it so we know what dosage of drugs to use on it,” Mecham said. “When I got down there, it hit the window a couple of times with its paw and it looked perfectly healthy.”

Division of Wildlife Resources officials carry out a tranquilized mountain lion that invaded a home on the 700 block of West Morby Street, in Washington, Utah, April 25, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Kory Goodwin, St. George News
Division of Wildlife Resources officials carry out a tranquilized mountain lion that invaded a home on the 700 block of West Morby Street, in Washington, Utah, April 25, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Kory Goodwin, St. George News

In this instance, authorities decided the best thing to do would be to tranquilize the uninjured mountain lion and relocate it.

“If it didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t want to euthanize it, you know, just let it have a chance,” Mecham said. “If it’s killing somebody’s livestock or doing damage or posing a threat to the public then, yeah, then we’re going to have to do something different.”

Authorities used an air-powered pistol to administer a dart and drugs to the mountain lion, rendering it sound asleep within two minutes, Mecham said. Authorities were then able to remove the tranquilized lion from the window well and place it in a transport box.

After a wildlife animal has been tranquilized, Mecham said they are generally out for approximately one hour.

A mountain lion was tranquilized and relocated after it invaded the window well of a Green Springs home on the 700 block of West Morby Street, in Washington, Utah, April 25, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
A mountain lion was tranquilized and relocated after it invaded the window well of a Green Springs home on the 700 block of West Morby Street, in Washington, Utah, April 25, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

“We want to have everything done while they’re out and let them just wake up on their own,” he said. “We just take it to where we want to relocate it and then it will just jump out. It will be pretty fired up when it wakes up.”

Mecham said he expects the mountain lion will be released in a wilderness area on the north end of Pine Valley Mountain, near Cedar City.

“A long way from here. They do have ways of returning to places they’ve been before – they just have a compass that allows them to do that,” he said. “I think it probably had a bad enough experience here with people that it will stay up on the mountain and be a lion.”

Pine Valley Mountain is some of the greatest mountain lion habitat in the state, Mecham said, adding that he believes this mountain lion, a young male he expects is around 15 months old, came from the Pine Valley area.

“Typically, what happens in a situation where they show up here is a couple things: they’re sick or injured, or they’re a young one and they’ve left their mother, and we call them ‘transients,’” he said. “They’re just looking for a place to live to call home and sometimes they end up in a place they shouldn’t be.”

Living in Southern Utah, Mecham said mountain lions wander down off the mountains and into residential areas from time to time.

A mountain lion was tranquilized and relocated after it invaded the window well of a Green Springs home on the 700 block of West Morby Street, in Washington, Utah, April 25, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
A mountain lion was tranquilized and relocated after it invaded the window well of a Green Springs home on the 700 block of West Morby Street, in Washington, Utah, April 25, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

“If they do,” he said, “the best thing to do is don’t approach them, don’t run from them, make yourself look as big as possible, make noise, throw rocks at them, sticks, whatever, and move away.”

Mecham said mountain lions aren’t above taking small dogs and cats for dinner, so if you know there’s a lion in the area, it’s a good idea to keep your pets in and to keep an eye on your children.

“This is kind of an uncommon deal here,” he said, “but there’s a lot of trees here – there’s a lot of cover. A lion could lay here in the brush and not be detected all day long and then, once the sun goes down, it gets up and starts its hunt again. Just be aware of your surroundings and, if one’s around, let the division (of Wildlife Resources) know as soon as possible and we’ll take care of it.”

To contact the Division of Wildlife Resources in Washington County, telephone 435-879-8694; in Cedar City, telephone 435-865-6100. To find a field office in other parts of the state, see the listing on the DWR’s contacts Web page here.

For more information on how to protect your family from wildlife, visit Wild Aware Utah.

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Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • Robert April 25, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I wonder if this is what was making this strange noise and scratching sounds outside my dining room window a couple nights ago during the high winds?

    • ladybugavenger April 26, 2016 at 12:17 am

      It was a squirrel

    • RealMcCoy April 27, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      No, that was dotboy, looking for a table for 1…

  • Ron April 26, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    As a 10 year resident of the Green Springs area, my wife and I have seen these lions on a few occasions near the Green Springs gold course. Seems to be plenty of “fowl” food residing at the golf course, which could explain why lions are in the area. The availability of an easy meal, makes this area appealing to lions.
    There are more than a fair share of lions in the Green Springs area. Keep an eye out for your pets and children.

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