Two families staying at a cabin near Bear Lake, Utah discovered earlier this month that they had an unexpected neighbor: a mountain lion. KXAN reported that Kyle Stringham and his family were in the process of making breakfast when they were told that there was a cougar hiding beneath a neighbor’s porch.
“Her head was the size of a basketball, and the paws were huge,” Stringham said.
An avid hunter and angler, Stringham knew what a rare opportunity it was for his family, especially his young kids, to see a wild mountain lion. He also understood how dangerous it could be.
“We immediately got all of the kids in the house and locked the doors,” Stringham told KSL.com. “There were some big windows directly at that side of the house, so of course everyone pulls out their phones and whatever they can to take video—we’re just waiting to see if the thing comes back out.”
The large cat did not want to move anytime soon. According to employees from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), which later arrived to capture the mountain lion, the animal was probably hiding under the house after following a local deer herd to the area. Since the cabin was built on stilts, the cat decided it was the perfect place to shelter from the wind and snow. Wildlife officials brought a bear trap to transport the cat, but getting the animal out was easier said than done.
“We were belly-crawling under this home to try and get eyes on this cougar and it had crawled into this tight little corner, so we had to somehow tranquillize it and get it out of there,” said Corrie Wallace, a DWR specialist. “It took us a while to tranquillize it. She was a fighter, so as we tranquilized her and she kind of fought around we ended up having to shoot her more than once with the tranquilizer guns.”
It took nearly eight hours before the cat was sedated enough to be moved safely, and at that point the cat was so docile that Stringham’s four-year-old daughter was able to pet the animal on the head.
“Most people never see a mountain lion because they’re ‘that’ creature,” Stringham said. “They know you’re there before you do.”
Mountain lions rarely make themselves known to humans in the wild, especially since they would much rather avoid people if possible. Some instances of the big cats confronting humans have been recorded, however. Last August, a hiker in Colorado was stalked by a mountain lion for 20 minutes, during which she sang opera to keep it at a distance. Thankfully, Stringham said he and his family were all safely behind walls during the entire encounter.
You can see a video of the cat below: