As drought grips West, cougar sightings increase

(National Park Service)

DRAPER, Utah — The drought gripping the West is contributing to an increased number of mountain lion sightings in Utah, police said.

It appears cougars are being forced into more populated areas to get enough water to drink, Draper Police Lt. Pat Evans told Fox13 News.

One recent encounter happened in Coyote Hollow, near the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper. Hiker Sherie Allen said she had just hit the trail with friend Shelli Roberts and Roberts’ small Shitsu Yorkie dog, Buster when she heard something.

“We hear this like, ‘rawrrrr’ ” it wasn’t like a growl, it was like that screech,” she said. It was a cougar, about six feet away.

“She, luckily, grabbed my arm and was like, ‘Whatever you do, do not run,’ and she stopped me in my tracks,” Roberts said of Allen.

Roberts picked up Buster, and the big cat tracked them as they backed away slowly and got away safely.

Other hikers should be aware of the danger and watch for big cats. In an encounter, people should try to make themselves look big, maintain eye contact and never run away from a cougar. Any small pets or kids should be kept close.

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