Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Utah Wildlife Department traps capture two cougars

Dec 16, 2006 5:07 pm US/Mountain

OGDEN Two cougars have been snared in traps set out for other animals in northern Utah, state wildlife officials said.

The big cats were caught in separate areas last week – one near Brigham City and one near Causey Reservoir, about 26 miles east of Ogden in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said Justin Dolling, a regional officer for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Trappers reported both incidents to wildlife officials. The cougar near Brigham City wriggled free of the snare-style trap and disappeared before state officers arrived, Dolling said.

The second cat was trapped and DWR biologists tranquilized it and released it into the wild. The cat had attacked and injured a dog belonging to the trapper who set the snare, Dolling said. That may have happened because the cat was trapped and felt threatened, he said.

“Under normal situations a cougar will flee from a dog,” he said. “Just because they’ve had experiences with houndsmen trailing them through the woods and treeing them. That is not pleasant for the cats.”

Typically cougars also flee from humans, even though the animals sometimes come in proximity with civilization, Dolling said. Cougars sightings are common, he added, but it’s the first time in three years any cougars have been caught in traps.

Dolling said wildlife officials cannot accurately estimate the size of the cougar population in northern Utah, although they suspect it isn’t large.

Cougars are known to roam of large areas of land. A cougar fixed with a radio collar by wildlife officials in Tooele’s Oquirrh Mountains was tracked over hundreds of miles through the Uinta Mountains, across parts of southern Utah and into Colorado, Dolling said.

“The home range of a cougar is very large,” he said. “The area from North Salt Lake to Ogden may be enough for three or four cougars.”


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