Virginia Potter of Deadwood, South Dakota, and her small dog had a startling run in with a mountain lion Sunday night.
Around 7:00 p.m., Potter took her 6-month-old corgi out to her yard. Shorty, the puppy, began barking at something and Potter assumed it was at a family of rabbits that live under her shed.
Moments later, a mountain lion appeared and bounded over Potter's small picket fence towards the dog.
"I screamed bloody murder and started high-tailing it toward the house with Shorty on my heels, and we got to the house at the same time," Potter told Rapid City Journal staff writer Tom Griffith.
Once inside, Potter called the police. Two Deadwood Police officers responded and spotted two mountain lions in the area near a fresh deer carcass. They ran off when one of the officers fired his gun.
Likely, the mother lion had recently killed the deer to feed her family. The cat may have viewed Shorty as a hungry scavenger, and chased him away while being protective of her meal.
Officers removed the deer and stayed at Potter's house for the next three hours to monitor the situation. The Department says sightings are common this time of year as deer move into cities in search of greener vegetation. Residents should remove attractants. And in the rare situation of an encounter with a lion, do not run, as this may trigger the predatory instinct to chase.
Deadwood Police Chief Kelly Fuller commented that his department is reluctant to kill mountain lions.
"We realize they share the area with us," he said. "As long as they're good neighbors, we don't have a problem with them. They are a magnificent animal, and they have their place here. But our job is about public safety, and sometimes we have to take action."
Fuller prefers to handle non-aggressive lions with less than lethal force. Officers are equipped with rubber bullet shotgun rounds to haze lions away from urban areas.
These two lions appear to have moved on, but Potter remains cautious and is keeping her puppy indoors.
MLF has sent a letter to Deadwood Police Chief Kelly Fuller to thank the officers for their response to this incident. We also included a copy of the Cougar Management Guidelines (created by mountain lion scientists to address issues of conflict) to help the department expand their mountain lion response toolkit. You can view our thank you letter.
What YOU Can Do
Write your own letter to Chief Fuller and his department to thank them for responding positively to this incident. The Mountain Lion Foundation views South Dakota as a pivotal state in terms of the struggle mountain lions face in establishing populations east of the Rockies, and we would like to encourage this state to continue responding to mountain lion interactions non-lethally. Use your voice! Tell the department that you appreciate their stance of sharing the landscape with our mountain lion neighbors.
Deadwood Police Department
Attn: Chief Fuller
100 Sherman Street
Deadwood, SD 57732