LAST UPDATE: 9/28/2006 11:03:18 AM
tory by: Erika Edberg
DRAPER (ABC 4 News) -- A wild animal got a little too close for comfort in Draper Tuesday afternoon, and now residents there are keeping a close eye on their front lawns.
Tyler Falkner says he saw a cougar in his neighbor's yard along Manilla Drive. "I was just pulling into my driveway and caught something out of the corner of my eye," Falkner said.
It was a cougar walking along the sidewalk south of his house. "I actually got out of my truck, closed the door, and when it heard the door close it actually looked back at me and that's when I knew for sure," Falkner said.
Shortly after that, his neighbor Cheryl Jones noticed her dog -- a pug named Lacey -- was nowhere to be found. She and her husband Eric were afraid the cougar had gotten her. "That was scary because our dog's about the same size as my baby," Jones said.
This area is filled with young children and other small pets, which is why wildlife officials want people to be careful. "Cougars will eat anything they can catch -- cats, dogs, small deer, so pets can disappear," said Sgt. Scott White of the Department of Natural Resource's Division of Wildlife Resources.
He thinks this was a small cougar, which may be following the deer population down from the higher elevations. "They're young cats that get kicked out of the nest, so to speak, and they're out trying to find their own territory," White said.
Fortunately, Lacey turned up in an animal shelter Wednesday. They think she was just scared away by the big cat. But this neighborhood is now really on the watch, and won't let kids or pets stray very far from the front door.
Wildlife officials say while it's smart to keep an eye on your pets, the good news is the big cats will usually not attack children or adult humans when they're hungry, unless they feel threatened. If you see one, stop and back away from it, since they're often as scared of humans as we are of them.