Cougar stalks, attacks Carbon County hunter
A Price resident was stalked and attacked by a cougar on Aug. 29 during what started out as a regular hunting trip to Joes Valley.
The victim, Allen McCourt, was archery hunting for deer in Joes Valley when the attack occurred.
The cougar apparently stalked McCourt for several hundred feet when the animal pounced toward him.
McCourt reportedly ducked from the cougar's attack and the animal missed him. McCourt then hit the cougar with a nearby stick and rocks before grabbing his bow and fatally injuring the animal.
McCourt was then able to get to his vehicle and flag down help.
The cougar's body was found by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources workers near where the attack had taken place in the following day.
"The DWR was skeptical about the attack before finding the cougar the next day," said Tom McCourt, the hunter's father.
Representatives of the DWR believe that, by the cougar's tracks, the animal had stalked McCourt for several hundred feet.
The cougar pounced on him when the victim apparently came too close to a freshly killed deer that animal may have been attempting to feed upon before being interrupted.
The DWR believes that coming too close to the cougar's feeding ground along with the use of deer hunting scent by the victim may have contributed to the attack.
Cougar attacks are generally rare throughout the year in Utah, but can be vicious and fatal. The cougar is believed to be a shy predator that does not attack humans often.
The DWR's website suggests people follow several guidelines to prevent conflicts with the wild animals while in cougar country.
Carbon County residents should:
Refrain from feeding deer or raccoons.
Feeding wildlife encourages the animals to remain in areas of human use, often in greater than normal densities. This, in turn, attracts cougars and increases the potential for conflict.
Avoid leaving pet food where cougars or other wildlife have access to it.
Not allow pets to run free.
Cougars will prey on dogs and cats, quickly learning that the pets are easy to take.
If people leave pets outside, they should keep the animals in covered cages.
A lion can leap over an eight-foot fence to get a pet.
Close the doors of barns or sheds. Inquisitive cougars might go inside.
Never allow children to play alone in foothill locations, particularly at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
People should clear away brush from bus stops and other places where cougars can hide.
If a cougar is encountered, the DWR suggests using the following tips to prevent a serious attack from occurring:
Should not panic when coming into contact with cougars.
Most cougars try to avoid confrontation. People should raise their arms to appear as large as possible. Cougars prefer smaller prey.
People should slowly back away, being careful never to run or turn their back while yelling and waving their arms.
Never make direct eye contact with a cougar.
The wild animals perceive eye contact as an act of aggression.
Fight back if attacked.
People should do their best to keep the cougar from getting behind them.
Notify the nearest DWR office about observing unusual or threatening cougar behavior.
Carbon County residents with Internet access may obtain information about cougars and other large game by visiting DWR's website at www.wildlife.utah.gov.