Mountain lion sightings in Santa Clara prompt safety warning for smaller pets

Stock image of mountain Lion | Photo courtesy of iStock, Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE Officers responded to a mountain lion sighting behind a Santa Clara grocery store Thursday evening, one of several sightings in the area keeping animal control officers busy.

Younger cats have been strolling in unfamiliar territory, while one mature animal has been spotted repeatedly, but is proving difficult to capture.

The mountain lion that was reported Thursday was observed running across Pioneer Parkway and into the lava rocks behind Harmons Grocery, Ivins Animal Shelter supervisor Balee Sleppy said.

The animals are more of a nuisance at this point, as there have been no animal-to-human contacts to date, she said, but one German shepherd was injured and later treated by a veterinarian after an encounter with the large cat.

Santa Clara-Ivins Animal Control receives calls daily reporting mountain lion sightings, with most being reported closer to Kayenta where “the city meets wildlife,” Sleppy said. However, there have been multiple calls reporting sightings closer to residential areas, similar to Thursday’s call.

There have been no reports of the cougars being aggressive towards humans, but there have been reports of the cats attacking smaller animals and pets.

Sleppy said it’s important to keep smaller pets secure, as roaming pets are easy prey for cougars.

“These guys are carnivores and are normally nocturnal eaters, but if they see a smaller animal where they can reach it, then it’s likely they will try and eat it.”

The Santa Clara-Ivins Department of Public Safety posted the following warning on Twitter Friday morning:

“This is a reminder to those who may not know we have big cats that prowl our cities day and night. With a few attacks on house pets this last week we strongly advise you watch your pets and make sure at night they are in a safe place.”

The increase in sightings may be related to the the age of the mountain lions currently in the area, and “the younger cats are really moving right now,” she said, while older animals are more experienced and “never go to the same place twice,” likely to avoid being captured.

There are exceptions.

“There is one cat in particular that seems to be using a school parking lot as a walkway, and appears to be very intelligent; so we are contacting the Division of Wildlife Resources on this one.”

If you see a mountain lion, contact the Santa Clara-Ivins police dispatch at 435-634-5730.

The faster we can get a public safety officer there, the better, she said.

Mountain lions can weigh up to 220 pounds, can leap up to 40 feet, and can live more than 20 years. The animals usually stay in remote areas, with a home range of between 25 to 100 square miles, and can live in various environments. They prefer to eat animals with hooves, but are known to eat squirrels, beavers, raccoons, coyotes, rabbits and other animals as well.

To contact the Division of Wildlife Resources in Washington County, call 435-879-8694; in Cedar City, call 435-865-6100.

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

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • Striker4 September 22, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Well here I am Trolling St George news at 10:45 am Saturday September 22 2018…….well golly gee whiz silly willy wonkers there snagglepuss …here kitty kitty here kitty kitty

    • Real Life September 22, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      Funny thing about being a troll is you are out there for everyone to see.😉

  • ScanMeister September 22, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    I have always wondered sometimes while walking in the outback what might be spying me out that I am completely unaware. I know living in Hawaii night diving I would have a feeling like……jaws is watching me…..sometimes and then there was one in the area…Mako….Tiger.

  • utahdiablo September 22, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Mountain Lions like smaller pets….they taste like chicken!

  • Kilroywashere September 23, 2018 at 1:13 am

    I collect bear survival and bear attack books. Not worried about mountain lions. I have two books about them. The only way to avoid death is to recognize their footprints. Bears are easy. Look for dung and scraped up trees. But the desert terrain here has a lot of rock, but hey, what a way to go. Rare, to get attacked, but I believe there was a fatality in the state of Washington just under a year ago. Animals have been acting up as of late.

  • Jeannette September 23, 2018 at 1:36 am

    Well .. the city expands more and more an encroaches on the cougar’s territory, where’s a poor cat to go?

    The mountain lions are so beautiful. I hate the hunts that Utah has just to kill them.

  • homer498 September 23, 2018 at 6:34 am

    Hey, I know! Let’s kill it.

  • Redbud September 23, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    The mountain lions were here first, so if it attacks someone or something, get over it.

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