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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

Mountain lion captured in Sandy dies before release

By Wendy Leonard, Deseret News

Published: Sat, June 28 2:40 p.m. MDT

 A cougar hides behind a UTA train track as Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officers try to tranquilize it after it strayed near Jordan Commons in Sandy on Friday, June 27, 2014.

A cougar hides behind a UTA train track as Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officers try to tranquilize it after it strayed near Jordan Commons in Sandy on Friday, June 27, 2014.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SANDY — A mountain lion that wandered into a shopping plaza and was tranquilized early Friday has died under sedation.

"It just never came out of the effects of the drug," said Scott Root, an outreach manager with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

The agency recovered the animal blocks away from where it was first seen crossing into the Jordan Commons shopping center, at 9400 S. State Street, on Friday morning.

Police had fired a shot at the wild cat, assuming it might run into a nearby neighborhood, but the bullet did not hit the animal. Wildlife officials later used sedation drugs to successfully capture the cougar and the plan was to release it back into the wild, far from populated areas, Root said.

"We can't have repeat offenders, especially large predators, hanging out in urbanized areas," he said, adding that this was the first time this female cougar had been seen and reported.

"It did not act aggressively," Root said.

The animal's body will be taken to the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Utah State University in Logan on Monday. Root said it is uncommon for an animal to die under sedation, "but it does happen."

The division suspects other causes might have contributed to the animal's death, especially since it came into the urbanized area in the first place, which is also uncommon.

"Sometimes even people don't do well with certain drugs in their system," Root said. "We want to get to the bottom of it and find out what happened."

He said he was hoping for a "win-win situation" in regards to freeing the animal and keeping the public safe. Biologists, Root said, handled the situation "by the book."

"We don't take any happiness at all because it passed away," he said. "We do like wildlife as much as we value public safety as well."

Email: wleonard@deseretnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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1. Steven S Jarvis
Orem, UT,
June 28, 2014

Should have known it was in PAC-12 country.

Sad to see this happen, but the cougar should not have been there.

2. Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah,
June 29, 2014

Anone familiar with that area knows of all the subdivisions close by. There are children living within a few blocks of Jordan Commons. My brother and I had a paper route that covered the area from State Street to 7th East and 90th South to 94th South. Fifty years ago we had hundreds of customers. Now there are many more homes in the area.

Tranquilizing the Mountain Lion was the prudent thing to do - even if it resulted in the death of the cat.