Mountain lion sighting hits a bit too close to home

Mountain Lion Nwf
Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare but in such cases the animals usually are killed if they are caught. (National Wildlife Federation)

It’s happened again.

In early February, an adult mountain lion was spotted prowling the westside Las Vegas neighborhood where I generally spend my winters.

Just last July a female mountain lion was cornered and tranquilized on the city’s west side in a neighborhood about six miles from my condo.

The most recent cat – a big male – was seen much closer. It was prowling only about two miles from my place – near a shopping mall and Penney’s store that I frequent.

Wildlife and police staff could not locate the animal to tranquilize and return it to the nearby Spring Mountains. But at least six area residents captured images of it bounding fences and stalking rooftops, then posted the pictures on social media.

Sightings even made the national news last week, creating somewhat of a relief from endless pandemic stories.

Authorities in Las Vegas urged area folks to keep pet dogs and cats inside for the duration.

One woman, returning home about 3 a.m. one morning, saw the cat on her street and flashed her headlights. It promptly dropped the dead housecat it was carrying in its mouth and scurried away.

Authorities have not been able to locate it in recent days. So, they assume it returned to the mountains west of the city.

Exactly what is driving mountain lions into the densely populated suburbs remains something of a mystery. It was theorized the one seen in July had escaped a mountain forest fire north of Las Vegas and was searching for food.

The most recent sighting may be the result of heavy snows in the Sierra Nevadas this year. Food and open water are scarce in the mountains right now.

There’s another, less credible theory, that the big cats have always descended from the mountains on occasion to prowl the Las Vegas Valley. But it wasn’t until cell phone and doorbell cameras came into common use that many people became aware of their presence.

Regardless, we are bagging our night walks for a while.

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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