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NDOW says recent mountain lion encounter is rare, still advises caution


Nevada Department of Wildlife officials this week said they are investigating more calls about mountain lion activity in the Virginia Foothills following an encounter where a teen girl came across one of the animals. 

The incident, on Nov. 10, occurred near the 14-year-old girl’s home near Terry Way off Geiger Grade. The girl was walking her large dog when she said she noticed a small mountain lion stalking her. 

NDOW officials said the girl did everything right in defending herself and trying to scare the animal away. She faced the animal, yelled and threw rocks. Despite this, the mountain lion pounced on her but then ran away. The girl suffered only a minor puncture on her leg, likely from the cat’s dewclaw. 

The cat showed no fear of humans or the dog, which wildlife officials say poses a public safety threat. A short time after the incident, federal wildlife officials located the mountain lion and euthanized it. 

“We suspect the mountain lion, which was emaciated, either attacked out of desperation for food, or this was practice hunting behavior for the animal based on its small size and the fact that it immediately ran away,” said NDOW spokesperson Ashley Sanchez. 

Mountain lions typically avoid people, so encounters such as this are rare. The Mountain Lion Foundation notes that a person is more likely to drown in their bathtub or be killed by a pet dog than be attacked by one of the reclusive cats. 

However, the Virginia Foothills, with its Juniper trees and low brush, provide common mountain lion habitat. 

“While mountain lion attacks are very rare, we live in prime mountain lion habitat here in western Nevada,” Sanchez said. “We’re surrounded by abundant wildlife, including deer and small mammals. Wherever there is prey, there will be mountain lions. We advise people to take some simple steps to deter mountain lions from their property.”

Sanchez provided these tips to avoid attracting mountain lions:

  • Remove anything that might attract deer or other prey animals, such as racoons and rodents, including birdseed, pet food, trash or compost, water features, fallen fruit and excess shrubs. Ensure areas where these animals may den, such as woodpiles and decks, are clear of animal activity.
  • Discourage deer — one of the top food sources for mountain lions — from being in your yard.
  • Install devices to scare away the lions, such as motion-activated lights or sprinklers.
  • Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors, ensure they are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with your children about lions and teach them what to do if they encounter one.

The Mountain Lion Foundation provides tips on its website of what to do in the event of a mountain lion encounter. 

“STOP. DO NOT RUN,” it notes. Playing dead is also not advised. Experts say to keep eye contact, try to look large by standing tall, waving arms or opening a coat, speak firmly and throw items if necessary. 

“In the rare event of an attack, fight back. Most people succeed in driving the mountain lion away,” the foundation says. 

More information about mountain lions is at https://mountainlion.org/about-mountain-lions/. NDOW provides information about living in mountain lion territory at https://www.ndow.org/blog/living-with-mountain-lions/.

Source: NDOW

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