The smell of an easy pheasant meal attracted a young, wandering cougar from the Uinta National Forest into the outskirts of the town of Provo, Utah. Three days later the cat was killed and many are questioning the state's mountain lion policies.
It all started when a local resident heard commotion outside his friend's pheasant coop. Thinking the noise was a raccoon, he went out to scare away the unwanted critter.
Approaching the coop, the man caught a glimpse of a long tail disappearing into the trees. That's when he realized it was a lion. Apparently working on some videos for his new website, the man thought that catching the cat would be a great publicity stunt.
Over the next three nights he baited a large trap with meat scraps hoping to catch the young lion. The first two nights the bait disappeared. On his third attempt the man successfully captured the lion. He and neighbors took both photos and video footage of the trapped animal. When the novelty wore off they called the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to figure out what to do with the terrified young lion.
The responding officer reported the cat was a juvenile "yearling" cougar who was tempted into town by the easy meal. Still learning how to hunt larger, natural prey, the dog-sized lion was therefore deemed to be a public safety threat and killed. There is a "no tolerance" mountain lion policy in the town. By trapping the cat and calling authorities, the local man sealed the lion's fate.
Had he not baited the cat into the neighborhood, it likely would not have returned after the first night checking out the pheasant coop. Other residents reported seeing a larger cat in the area which may have been this little one's mother. Within days the two likely would have moved back into their territory away from town without causing any problems. Unfortunately, due to the selfish actions of a man hoping to benefit by trapping a wild mountain lion, another American lion has been needlessly killed.
Was it worth it?
What are your thoughts? Should this man face charges for baiting a wild animal into town? Should Utah Division of Wildlife Resources consider a more tolerant lion policy?