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Mountain lion sighting prompts school shelter-in-place

Two Salt Lake County schools were in temporary shelter in place protocol after a nearby mountain lion sighting. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Two schools sheltered-in-place Tuesday, over a mountain lion scare in the Olympus Cove area.

Three big cats were first seen in a backyard near 4300 South and 4000 East in Salt Lake City.

That residence is about a ½ mile west from the mouth of Neff’s Canyon in the foothills of Mt. Olympus.

Security footage, captured by homeowner Tyler Slade, confirmed mountain lions were in his backyard after he initially heard a deer being attacked prior to sunrise.

Officials with Utah DWR say mountain lion sightings aren’t very common, but the animals will follow deer.

“We have a lot of deer in that area,” said central outreach manager with Utah DWR, Scott Root. “In fact, we have abundant deer in a lot of urban settings.”

Additionally, this specific sighting took place in the foothills where deer often come down from the mountains.

“When you have a large population of deer, which is mountain lions’ main source of prey, then that does happen,” said Root. “You may have a mountain lion show up in that area.”

The news of three mountain lions in the area was enough for both Churchill Junior High and Oakridge Elementary School to enter precautionary shelter-in-place protocol.

“It’s just with all the people [that] when one is sighted, it’s big news,” he said.

The protocol was lifted in the late morning hours and the schools were offering to provide adult supervision for any children that walk home from school.

While mountain lion sightings remain rare, they can be extremely dangerous when they occur.

“You don’t want to run away from a mountain lion,” Root said. “You don’t want to trigger that predatory instinct.”

Instead, he advised, make a lot of noise, back away slowly and contact DWR officials immediately afterward.

Additional mountain lion safety tips can be found here.