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."