Update on the incident in Millcreek last month:
We heard back from the Division about the lion that was killed after it attacked a runner. It sounds like it was a female, which we were concerned about given what we'd been observing in the area. Unfortunately, policy requires that a lion be lethally removed following an attack such as this for public safety. It's not a decision that's made lightly. The folks we know at the Division and who got called out to respond to the incident do very much care for these cats. There are individuals there that are working hard to ensure that lions have a future in Utah where they are better understood and managed overall. This is one of those situations though where policy dictated action. We wish that things could've been handled differently but understand the position that the Division is in with this.
So what are some of the lessons learned here and what can we do when we're in lion habitat to ensure not only our safety, but theirs as well? It sounds like the runners and the cat startled one another which resulted in the attack. Fortunately, there are things that we can do to make wildlife aware of our presence to help avoid encounters like this. Bear bells can make noise that can alert wildlife to our presence, as well as talking with a friend, music (be aware of trail ethics with music though as it can negatively impact other trail users' experiences), and so on. Another option is speaking up as you approach a blind corner to let wild animals know that you're there.
If you do see a lion, know how to interpret it's body language. Just because you see a lion doesn't mean that it necessarily poses a threat. If it does display aggression, don't run. Back away slowly. Yell. Throw things. If it attacks, fight back. When used properly, bear spray can be a good deterrent.
Also, lions are most active around dawn or dusk but can be out anytime of day. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and try to go out with a buddy as much as possible.
You can learn more about lions by visiting our website at www.utahmountainlion.org. If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out to us on social media or at email@example.com
We can turn this tragic situation into a learning opportunity so that encounters like these might be avoided in the future. It's important to note that mountain lions by nature are very elusive and seek to avoid us as much as possible. Think about how many people recreate in lion country every day and how rare encounters and attacks are. Thankfully, we can all do our part to help foster coexistence by taking steps to avoid conflicts while we're in the homes of our wild neighbors.