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Trail runner hurt by cougar; DWR locates, euthanizes animal

By Michael Houck & Lauren Steinbrecher

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    SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (KSL) — UPDATE – Wildlife officials say they believe they found the cougar was found and euthanized the animal.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Wildlife officials are looking for a cougar that hurt a runner after it was startled Sunday morning.

According to Utah’s Department of Wildlife Resources spokeswoman Faith Jolley, the woman and her friend were running on the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon around 8:30 a.m.

The two runners turned a corner and startled the cougar that happened to be on the trail.

“They started to backway from the trail, which is what you’re supposed to do when you encounter a mountain lion,” Jolley said. “And as they did, the mountain lion leaped at her, and she slipped and fell backward, and its claws punctured her right leg.”

The second runner was able to hit the cougar with a rock, and the two runners got away. The cougar also left the trail and did not chase the runners.

After contacting first responders, the two refused an ambulance and drove to a local hospital in their own car, according to Jolley.

The woman had two puncture wounds on her right leg but was cleared by the hospital and is stable.

Jolley said DWR is currently looking for the cougar with trained hounds. One of the runners left a shoe, giving officials an area to look for the cougar.

If the cougar is found, it will be euthanized as per protocol because it did hurt a human.

“Just as a precaution. Whenever we do have wildlife that does injure a person, that’s part of our policy, we do have to euthanize,” Jolley said. “In this situation, we want to so we can see if it potentially has rabies or anything like that.”

She also asks people to stay out of the area even if the trail, canyons, or roads are not closed as they search for the cougar.

“It’s pretty rare for cougars to attack people and our biologists feel that this cougar was just startled and was not seeking to prey on this woman,” Jolley said.

Jolley reminds hikers to learn more about cougars and how to handle running into one at the WildAwareUtah website.

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