Authorities are monitoring the Kingsbury Grade area after what they suspect was a mountain lion attacked a resident's dog last week.
Tom Kilby with Nevada Wildlife Services has been out with bloodhounds tracking the lion, which he thinks is a small male, and has found scat, paw prints and scratchings on the dirt like a cat will make to cover its droppings.
Patrick Somma reported spotting the predatory cat Aug. 5, while on a walk with his dog, Duke, a tall 75-pound Rhodesian ridgeback.
During the course of their outing, Duke ran off, chasing something into the woods.
When he heard a loud yelp from his dog, Somma went running and yelling toward the noise. He had drawn his personal gun just in time to see a gray, scruffy animal retreating about 100 feet away.
"It just looked at me with the strangest look I'd ever seen," Somma said, "It looked like an old man.
"We looked at each other to say, 'It's over.' But you could see Duke was devastated."
Somma at first had no idea what it was, suspecting a large coyote or wolf. But it had an oddly shaped head and was very large, about 90 pounds.
It was gone before he could take the safety latch off the gun.
Duke received a swipe to his leg which tore the skin and exposed his whole muscle, Somma said.
"A second swipe probably would have killed him."
He quickly loaded up Duke to take him to the vet.
Serendipitously, a mobile animal hospital was blocking the road on his way out and the vet went right to work. Within eight minutes of being attacked, Duke was being patched up with 20 stitches.
Rhodesian ridgebacks were bread in Africa to hunt lions, Somma said. But they don't kill them, they tree them.
It's unclear who was hunting whom that day. Lansford said a young mountain lion may have been startled by the dog and just took a swipe at him, or its hunting instincts could have been triggered by the running dog.
Because mountain lions can cover a range of 150 square miles, it's not clear if this one is still in the area. If found, the lion could be relocated or killed.
"In (Kilby's) opinion, that lion's probably left the country and will not return," according to Kevin Lansford, district supervisor of wildlife services in Eastern Nevada. Western Nevada officials were not available.
The signs Kilby found were not fresh, but he will be monitoring the area for the next week, until he's certain the cat has left, Lansford said.
Kilby has been informing residents in the area on what to do and what not to do.
Nevada has a healthy and stable mountain lion population, Lansford said, but they are elusive and prefer deer as food.
One thing is clear: this is not the first cat to pass through the area, he said, but they usually don't cause any incidents.
There have been around 10 mountain lion incidents in the last decade in Nevada.
Mountain lions: what do to, what not to do
• Never feed the wildlife. If you attract deer to your property, you'll attract their predators as well.
• Travel in groups. Do not let children run ahead on a trail.
• Do not run from a lion, or you may trigger its predator instincts. If a lion knows you have seen it, you are usually safe. They prefer to take prey by surprise.
• Make yourself look big, do not challenge it and slowly back away. You can throw rocks at it or yell at it to try to scare it off. But don't try to stare it down or make low growling noises, or it might perceive that as a challenge.