Mountain lion lounges in Utah family’s yard for hours — ‘I’ve never had anything quite like this’

Dec 12, 2023, 5:43 PM | Updated: 11:50 pm

A mountain lion in a Holladay backyard...

A family living on the benches of Mount Olympus found a mountain lion in their backyard. (Eliza Pace, KSL TV)

(Eliza Pace, KSL TV)

MOUNT OLYMPUS, Salt Lake County — A family living on the bench of Mount Olympus had a bit of a startle this morning when they found a mountain lion in their backyard.

Bob Motzkus has lived off Wasatch Drive near Mount Olympus for decades.

“We’ve lived here 58 years,” he said. “We were the first house on this part of the street. In 1965, we moved in here.”

Over the years, they’ve had a few different animals.

“We’ve seen raccoons and lots of squirrels, we have squirrels all over — never seen a cougar until today,” Motzkus said.

Motzkus said his wife noticed the animal this morning around 10 a.m.

“She said, ‘There’s a dead animal in our backyard,’ and so I came here and looked,” Motzkus said. “And then he picked his head up and looked right at me, ‘That isn’t a dead animal, that’s a mountain lion!’”

The lion wasn’t just there temporarily, it stayed around for hours, giving the family a stare down through the big back window.

“He looks like he has a full belly but he’s been there for at least four hours that we know of and he doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere. Maybe we got a pet,” Motzkus joked.

The yard was modeled after Utah’s canyons with natural rock walls and a waterfall. The cougar seemed to take a liking to a bed of ivy beneath a canopy of pine trees. The yard is also very private as it’s completely fenced in.

“It’s 6-foot, it’s fenced all around. I’m sure he jumped that to get in here,” he said.

Motzkus and his family said they’d never seen a mountain lion in their yard before today, although five years ago, their neighbor’s dog disappeared and they believed it was the work of a mountain lion.

“We saw what remained of our neighbor’s dog down the street. It was a cute little poodle, the family just loved it, and all there was, was the collar, and blood,” Motzkus said.

The family said the cat seemed to be napping on and off.

“The whole family’s been up here to look at him because we’ve got the perfect view of him – he’s right there!” Motzkus said. “And everybody’s looked at him. We’ve all taken pictures and he’s still there just happy as can be.”

Motzkus said he contacted animal control who referred him to Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources. Biologists arrived at approximately 4:30 p.m. and scared the puma off.

They found a dead raccoon near where the mountain lion was laying and removed it. DWR explained if the cat doesn’t have something to come back for, he’ll go elsewhere.

“I’m a hunter I’ve done a lot of hunting … I’ve had encounters we’ve seen them all the time. We see mountain lions and bears,” Motzkus said. “I’ve never had anything quite like this.”

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Mountain lion lounges in Utah family’s yard for hours — ‘I’ve never had anything quite like this’