Photo courtesy of DWR
Shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, a student at Sally Mauro Elementary in Helper reported seeing a mountain lion by the west side of the school. The sighting was confirmed by the school’s secretary, according to Carbon School District Superintendent Steve Carlsen.
No students were reported as having been hurt by the mountain lion.
The school was then put on temporary lockdown as a precaution after which local officials from the Division of Wildlife Resources came to the school investigating the scene.
Per recommendation from the DWR, the students were released from the school to return home. Officials reportedly felt that there was no immediate threat to keep them from doing so.
After students were released from the school, a houndsman from the DWR searched the area with three dogs, trying to track the cougar. The search included a radius of two miles and yielded no results. The houndsman will return today and investigate a larger area, according to the DWR.
Morgan Jacobsen, Conservation Outreach Manager for the Southeaster Region Office of the DWR, expressed that at the current time, the organization is asking those in the community to be aware and cautious.
He also gave several precautionary measures to individuals, expressing that since the community is in an area frequented by cougars and their prey to be aware of the threat.
Jacobsen further explained that it’s a good idea to travel in groups and make a lot of noise during travel and to keep small animals, whether domestic pets or farm stock, inside a house or in a barn or other covered enclosure.
Cougars also prefer to stay hidden, so keeping areas well-lit with motion-activated lights or other means is a good idea as well as keeping bushes and weeds trimmed.
If community members see anything the think may be the cougar, they are encouraged to call the DWR during business hours at 435-613-3700. If the sighting is after hours, individuals should call Price Dispatch at 435-637-0890.