The mountain lion captured Friday morning in Sandy, Utah by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) officers died sometime Saturday while under UDWR's care.
According to Scott Root, a UDWR outreach manager, the lion died while under the effect of the tranquilizer and UDWR biologists will perform an analysis to determine if there were any health factors that may have contributed to the death of the animal.
Mr. Root went on to say that "The fact that this cougar was in a highly populated area suggests that something may not have been normal with this animal."
UDWR's efforts to place the blame for its own death onto the lion appear to be a little disingenuous. Few biologists would characterize a mountain lion wandering into a developed area as "abnormal behavior." In actuality, lion experts have been explaining for decades that, "dispersing mountain lions move along the wildland-urban edge with frequent forays into peninsulas of habitat that intrude into urban areas." Though they "do not seek out urban habitat, [...] mountain lions regularly visit urban areas, usually without being noticed."1
In addition, in an earlier report Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials stated that because of its physical location and the presence of ravines, mountain lions routinely wander into the town of Sandy, Utah, even if not into the downtown core.
Many residents feel UDWR should be prepared and better able to handle mountain lion encounters. More training and equipment for wildlife officers in the field are needed, as well as a plan for how and where to relocate lost lions.
1 Beier, Riley and Sauvajot (2010). Chapter 11 "Mountain Lions" in Urban Carnivores (p. 145). Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
See Fox's coverage of the event:
Just a few weeks prior and less than twenty miles away, UDWR euthanized a lion after tranquilizing and capturing the cat in a garage. Read more about that incident.