Mountain lion sighting hits a bit too close to home

(National Wildlife Federation)

It’s happened again.

In early February, an adult mountain lion was seen in the western part of Las Vegas, where I usually spend my winters.

Last July, a female lion was cornered and stunned on the west side of town in an area about six miles from my house.

The last cat, a large male, was seen from much closer. It was only two miles from my house, near the mall and Penny’s Market, where I frequent.

Animal control officers and police officers were unable to find the animal so they sedated it and returned it to nearby Spring Mountain. But at least six residents captured footage of him walking around fences and haunting rooftops, and then posted the footage on social media.

It was even the subject of a national news report last week, which makes it a little easier to deal with the endless stories about pandemics.

Las Vegas authorities have asked residents to keep their dogs and cats inside at all times.

A woman going home around 3 a.m. saw a cat on her street and turned on her headlights. He quickly dropped the dead cat he was carrying in his mouth and ran off.

Authorities have not been able to find him in recent days. So they assume he’s back in the mountains west of town.

Why mountain lions settle in densely populated suburbs remains a mystery. It is believed that the animal seen in July was fleeing a fire in the mountain forests north of Las Vegas and looking for food.

Recent sightings may be due to heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada this year. Food and running water are currently scarce in the mountains.

Another theory, less plausible, is that big cats have always come down from the mountains to make their way through the Las Vegas valley, sometimes. But it wasn’t until cell phones and doorbell cameras became commonplace that many people became aware of their presence.

Anyway, we put our evening on hold for a while.

frequently asked questions

What should you do if you have a mountain lion nearby?

Maintain eye contact. Never walk in front of a mountain lion or run away from one. No bending or squatting. Aggressively waving your arms, throwing rocks or branches, not looking away.

How do you know there is a mountain lion near you?

If there is a cougar in the area and you are lucky enough to see it, it is usually because of the signs of the cougar and not because you do not see the animal. These marks are evidence left behind after the cougar’s passage. Signs of a cougar are tracks, droppings, scratches and buried (partially buried) prey.

How do you keep mountain lions away from your home?

Installing streetlights, sirens or programmed water jets around your home and your pets’ living areas can help keep predators at bay. Remember, it’s just as important to scare off potential prey as it is to scare off the lion.

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