Posted December 13, 2012, 1:15 pm
If you live in an area that has mule deer in or near it, cougars may be in the area too.
Deer migrate to lower elevations in the winter. Cougars often follow them.
Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
John Shivik, mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says deer are the main animal cougars prey on, especially in the winter.
"The number of cougars that come in contact with people and pets jumps a bit in the winter," Shivik says. "As deer migrate to lower elevations in search of food, some cougars follow the deer. Other cougars are wandering in the winter, looking for new territories."
Shivik says seeing one of these elusive cats is extremely rare, and you shouldn't fear them. But because cougars are predators, you should respect them.
You can do several things to lessen the chance that you and a cougar have a conflict. Shivik also provides advice about what to do if you encounter a cougar.
Cougar safety tips are also available in two free brochures:
If you live in cougar country, such as housing areas that are next to forested mountains, Shivik says doing the following will lessen the chance you come in contact with a cougar:
The following are three things you should do if you encounter a cougar. "Remember them," Shivik says, "and teach them to your children:"
If you're hiking or camping, here are two things you can do to avoid encountering a cougar in the first place:
Living with wildlife
As Utah's population grows, more and more people are moving into the same places where wildlife live.
"If we're going to live in and right next to places where animals live," Shivik says, "we have to be smart. Having healthy wildlife populations in Utah is important. But to have those populations, we have to learn how to live with wildlife safely and responsibly."
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