Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Utah man who killed cougar will not face charges

Man who shot cougar will not face charges
He killed mountain lion in self defense, officials say

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff
Posted: 01/05/2010 03:31:20 PM MST

State game officials say a Peoa man who shot and killed a mountain lion last week after the wild animal slaughtered his Yorkshire terrier will not face criminal charges in the unusual case.

The young cougar was shot twice while underneath a trailer at 5100 N. Woodenshoe Road moments after South Summit resident Elaine Jorgenson found her dog dead near the doorstep.

Jorgenson said she spotted the mountain lion as it hissed at her from underneath the trailer. Her husband, Richard, then killed it with a rifle.

"This one didn't attack us. But honestly if my wife had taken one more step, I'm not sure it wouldn't have," Richard Jorgenson said.

The woman felt threatened by the cougar, said Rustin Nielsen, a Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer.

"You have the right to protect yourself and your property, which is what happened in this case," Nielsen said Monday. "She walked toward the trailer and it started growling at her From what it looked like, I don't know that the cougar necessarily was going to attack her, but that's how she felt."

Mountain lions rarely attack people, he said.

"To have a cougar threaten a human or their property or livestock, that doesn't happen very often," Nielsen said. "What we want to avoid is somebody seeing a cougar and shooting it because of what a cougar did in Peoa. It's against the law to shoot a cougar just because you see one."

"You also can't shoot a cougar just because it's on your property," he added.

Because of deer migrating to lower elevations, in the winter South Summit becomes prime habitat for mountain lions.

"These people, they live in a small town in the mountains where it's cougar country," Nielsen said. "The deer winter in the area and the cougars follow the deer."

There have been several reported cougar sightings in Brown's Canyon.

"There are way too many cats around. You get a hungry one, a young one, they will attack," Jorgenson said. "They would attack anything if they're just starving right to death, it's a last-ditch effort and they'll sure try it."


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