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Cougars beautiful but dangerous animal that can’t always be humanely transferred

According to PVT and other sources, a wild female mountain lion (also known as a cougar) was reported to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on January 26th, 2016. It was eventually killed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW).

As sad and controversial as it sounds, it was a right decision because of the proximity to “Downtown Pahrump”, a heavily human-occupied area with supermarkets, banks, school, restaurants, library and residences nearby. This cougar was here because she likely wasn’t able to find a more suitable wild habitat farther from Pahrump. At this point she was accustomed to easy prey by eating feral cats and other outdoor pets, burying them for later consumption and also eating food from bowls residents left outside for these domestic critters.

Tranquilizing and relocating this big cat was not a practical and safe option, since this cougar now enjoyed her ‘food stamps’ lifestyle, and would have most likely returned and presented a real danger by possibly attacking a small human or child later. Tranquilizing can also take up to 20 minutes to take effect. Having a scared wild cat running free high on adrenaline is extremely dangerous and it will need more chemicals until over-sedation happens and then it dies.

Therefore, I was deeply concerned by a PVT advice quote attributed to local resident and big cat owner Karl Mitchell suggesting that:

“The imminent danger question comes into play,” he said. “Was it about to attack somebody or was it a situation where it posed no real threat and could have been captured alive. I find it very disturbing that they would choose to kill the mountain lion rather than capture it alive and release it elsewhere.”

“It would have been a simple matter of using a throw-net and a catch-pole, which are two items that I personally own. I would have been able to throw the net over the cat and let it get tangled up then put the catch-pole around an appendage or the head, and then you can just load her into the cage.”

I myself am an animal lover and owner of captive-born exotic cats. I have been licensed by NDOW to possess captive-born native big cats for the last 15 years. It is never a good idea to approach a wild animal, especially big predatory ones such as cougar or bear. Unless the wild mammal is seriously sick, such as deadly and transmissible to humans rabies, it will not just mindlessly sit there and wait for a human with tools to come close enough to throw the net over it. With a powerful and athletic animal such as cougar, the cat would most likely run away if possible and keep presenting a danger to public safety to the community, or if cornered, jump on the person with the net and bite and scratch (or even kill) the now-tangled-in-his-own-net human sitting duck. So Pahrumpians, please do NOT try this extremely dangerous advice at home, just call authorities and let NDOW, the trained wildlife professionals, do their job that at times involves killing a beautiful but potentially dangerous wild animal.

Zuzana Kukol, President REXANO, Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership, www.REXANO.org and Pahrump resident since 2000


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