Sighting in shed rare, say wildlife experts
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/15/2012 -- Two men were surprised by a cougar when they walked into a shed earlier this week.
"I said, 'Greg, there's a mountain lion!' as I went by him or climbed over the top of him almost," Merlin Richens said, referring to his adult son Greg Richens. "He said, 'Yeah, that's a mountain lion.'"
The two had entered a shed behind Merlin Richens’ home where Merlin Richens had planned to show his son a box full of old traps that had belonged to a relative.
"I was just about to open (the box) up, when he saw me and jumped clear across to the other side of the shed," Merlin Richens said, of the cougar.
The big cat landed fewer than five feet away from the men, who quickly bolted, closed the door, and called 911.
Roosevelt police and Utah Division of Wildlife biologists responded to the scene, located in a neighborhood less than a quarter mile from Kings Peak Elementary School and Uintah Basin Medical Center.
Reports of close-up cougar sightings in residential areas are “very rare,” said Ron Stewart, outreach manager for the DWR's northeastern region.
"There have probably been four or five of them in my career," said Stewart, who has worked for the agency for more than 20 years.
Biologists shot the cougar with a tranquilizer gun and quarantined it overnight. They released it in a remote area of the Wasatch Mountains after the drugs had worn off.
"He looked like a young male, probably had just been kicked off from his parents, so he was still in good shape," Stewart said. He added that the cougar was likely drawn to remaining scent on the old traps in Richens’ shed.
Richens said he intends to install a new, more secure door on his shed to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future.
"It's quite an experience to walk up on a mountain lion like that," he said.
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