Provo Woman Spots Cougar In Downtown Crosswalk
Jul 25, 2019, 10:40 PM | Updated: Jul 26, 2019, 7:15 am
PROVO, Utah – There is a lot of cougar pride in Provo, but actual cougars are not quite as common. That wasn’t the case during the early morning hours of July 17, when a big cat was spotted downtown.
Liza Gonzalez snapped a photo of a cougar strolling through the crosswalk at the intersection at 100 North University Boulevard.
Gonzalez said she saw several cougars on cameras she set up while working for a conservation organization in Nicaragua, but had never seen one with her own.
That changed last Friday. She had dropped her husband off for work and was on her way home when the cougar caught her eye.
Just a cougar out for an early-morning stroll in Provo. 🐈@UtahDWR says all the snow this past winter kept prey animals in the lower elevations, which led to predators like cougars staying closer to cities this year. Working on this story for @KSL5TV at 5 and 6:30! pic.twitter.com/OA0i01Cr3z
— Sean Moody (@SeanMoodyKSL) July 25, 2019
“Oh my gosh! How is this possible in the middle of the city? Oh no! I was so excited! Really excited and I feel very lucky,” Gonzalez said.
The cougar was walking eastbound, presumably back to the mountains. Gonzalez got her phone out and captured a few seconds of video.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolley said heavy snow this past winter kept prey animals like deer in the lower elevations of the mountains.
Predators like cougars will follow the prey down low, closer to cities. She said young cougars also tend to roam more this time of year.
“Female cougars are having new kittens and so they end up kicking off their younger one to two-year-olds, and so they’re kind of just traveling through trying to find new territory,” she said.
If people run into cougars on the trail – or downtown – Jolley said the best defense is to make yourself intimidating.
“Make eye contact. They are a predator, so if you come off as being a bigger predator, they typically will back away, so make a lot of noise. Make yourself big,” she said.
Jolley said if people spot cougars in residential areas, DWR workers would like to know about it so they can keep track of cougar movements.
— Utah DWR (@UtahDWR) August 2, 2017