EDEN, Utah – A cougar, believed to be responsible for a string of dead livestock and pets, has been caught on camera for the first time killing a house cat in someone’s backyard – prompting further concerns for area residents.
A disturbing new video shows a cougar in someone’s backyard with a house cat dangling from its mouth.
This is the first time this cougar has been caught on video, but to Nordic Valley area residents this is a sight that has become all too common over the last three months.
“We’re very concerned,” said resident Shauna Miller. “We know of four sheep, a pig, a goat, a horse, we know of about 30 cats and another dog that’s passed away.”
Residents believe the cougar caught on camera is the same one that they have captured wandering through their yards on security cameras and has left their livestock and pets wounded and dead.
“With this one especially, he doesn’t seem to be leaving. He stays around the water source, he stays around the domestic animals, he has found his place to stay and I don’t see him leaving,” Miller said.
Residents believe they have reason to be afraid.
“That’s the most alarming part, we know that we share nature with them but this animal doesn’t seem to be afraid of humans,” Miller said.
Shauna said a number of her neighbors have called the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) to report these attacks, but their calls for help have fallen flat.
“The horse, they came up, they looked at the pictures and nothing happened,” she said referring, to a horse that suffered injuries after being bitten and clawed near its hindquarters. “They did tell us we could take matters into our own hands if it was on our property and we felt threatened, but until then we kind of just had to let nature run its course."
DWR said that the agency relies on people’s reports to allow them to handle these types of situations -- but as far as this area is concerned they haven’t received nearly the amount of reports for the number of attacks residents claim have happened.
“We received one call last week if I remember correctly, which was the first call I believe that we received from this area,” said Mark Hadley with the DWR.
“We received a couple of calls last night,” Hadley added, referring to the new video catching the cougar in the act.
Still, some residents do not believe DWR is taking the matter seriously.
“Out of all things, I don’t think you should have to wait until you have a picture or you actually see it with your own eyes, it attacking a human or another animal, for them [DWR] to do anything,” Miller said.
DWR said they have a biologist and a conservation officer in the area going door-to-door to warn residents of the cougar and give a pamphlet with information on preventing cougar attacks and what to do if you encounter a cougar.
DWR said the team is also assessing the danger to residents and they are prepared to move forward with a series of steps if they see a threat.
“We have a houndsmen on standby in the area right now,” Hadley said. “Sometimes you can set hounds loose on a cougar and it will scare it enough that it will just scare it away and it doesn’t want to come back and experience that again.”
Hadley said if the houndsmen is necessary and unsuccessful, their next step would be to relocate the animal.
“Usually we’ll try and relocate cougars, if we can get them up in a tree we’ll tranquilize them and we’ll try to move them a long ways away from that area,” Hadley said.
Euthanizing the animal is then a last resort, “If we feel like there is a threat to public safety at that point we will euthanize the animal to protect folks,” Hadley said.
But Shauna believes promises of action, only if DWR sees a threat, is not enough.
“Safety tips are great, they are something we all should adhere to but at some point, it shouldn’t come down to an attack of someone in your yard for them to do something,” Miller said. “At what point are they actually being liable for someone’s safety?”
DWR urges residents to report any sightings or attacks so they can take appropriate actions. Residents can learn more about cougar prevention and what to do in the event of an encounter by clicking here.