Search for brazen cougar continues |

Search for brazen cougar continues

by F.T. Norton

The search in west Carson City for a mountain lion that reportedly chased a jogger this week came up empty Wednesday, an official said.

Chris Healy, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said NDOW employees searched the area around King Street but couldn’t find the brazen cougar that a jogger said stalked him about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’ve had people out there today looking for signs, and we did not even find any tracks,” said Healy. “Sometimes people claim theysee mountain lions and they aren’t actually mountain lions. It could be a bobcat. But we have wardens waiting to try to talk to the person who made the report.”

Ryan Sullivan, 23, said he was jogging on a dirt trail that runs parallel to King Street when he heard a high-pitched growl and something running through the brush. Sullivan said he looked over and saw a mountain lion keeping pace with him on a hillside 50 yards away. The cat was bounding over sagebrush and coming toward him when Sullivan darted across the road and the animal didn’t, he said.

After the report, city workers plastered the west side of town with signs warning people to beware.

“Most of the time when you see a mountain lion in an area like this, it’s almost always a young male out on his own looking for a place to be,” Healy said. “You’re usually looking at a young male not very good at being a mountain lion yet.”

Healy said sightings in the area aren’t unusual this time of year.

“Mountain lions are as much a part of the west side of Carson City as mule deer are part of the west side of Carson City. When the deer migrate down, you’re going to see some mountain lions,” he said.

Mountain lions feast on mule deer, said Healy.

Earlier this month, NDOW wardens killed a mountain lion that had attacked and killed a dog in Lakeview Estates. Initial accounts incorrectly reported that the mountain lion had been accidentally killed after being improperly tranquilized.

“Our warden actually did officially dispatch it with a gunshot,” he said.

But the west side of town isn’t the only place in the city where cougars have been seen.

Stacey Belt said that on Nov. 8, she was driving from her home off Mexican Dam Road in east Carson City when she spotted two cougars drinking from the Carson River.

When one of the cats saw Belt and her husband watching them, it fled. But the other, said Belt, stared back.

“It was the most amazing thing,” she said. “I’ve lived here for seven years and I’ve seen bobcats and eagles, but have never seen a mountain lion.”

Healy said the fact that there were two lions would indicate they were a female with a yearling.

Healy also dispelled a quickly circulating rumor that a mountain lion sauntered into the frame while a TV news crew was interviewing a woman Friday near Western Nevada College.

“I saw the video and talked to the Channel 4 folks,” Healy said. “It’s real obvious it was a house cat.”

He said joggers and hikers can protect themselves against mountain lions by wearing a bell or other noisy item that alerts the creatures to their presence.

“Most of the time when there’s a problem with mountain lions, it’s because they get surprised a little bit and they have a response. They see something running, and they think it’s prey,” he said.

Healy said that if you happen upon a mountain lion, you should stop, back away slowly, resist the urge to run away, stand upright and appear larger – raise your arms, open your jacket – and if it starts to come toward you, “throw stones, branches whatever you can get your hands on.”

If the big cat still attacks, said Healy, “Fight back.”

“Mountain lions are a fact of life in the state of Nevada.”