Sep 5, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff WriterOfficials confirmed a mountain lion sighting at a downtown business in Lander early Wednesday morning.
"The whereabouts of the mountain lion are unknown at this time," Lander police chief Jim Carey said Wednesday.
Carey said his agency received a call at 3:29 a.m. from a Mr. D's employee reporting observing the animal on the east side of the grocery store's parking lot in the 700 block of Main Street.
"They were showing up for work," Carey said about the employee.
Responding officers observed the cat five blocks south of Main Street at the intersection of Seventh and Cliff streets. Carey said it proceeded east on Cliff Street and entered the back yard of a residence in the 600 block.
After notifying the property owner and checking the back yard, police again observed the mountain lion four blocks south toward City Park running through yards in the 500 block of Fremont Street.
Officers were unable to locate the animal after it headed east in the 300 block of Fremont Street.
Carey said Wyoming Game and Fish assisted in the search.
Game and Fish management officer Brian DeBolt said there is not a lot his agency can do unless the mountain lion remains in town.
"We have sightings every year in town. We had one in a tree on Fifth (Street) several years back," DeBolt said. "I would consider it fairly regular we have sightings in town. ... Lions frequent cities and towns all over Wyoming, and it's usually just them passing through."
Police were able to snap a photograph of Wednesday's cougar while it visited Kristy Cardinal's fenced-in yard on the corner of South Fifth and Fremont streets.
Cardinal is out of town and was unaware of the incident at the time.
"I hope my kitties are OK," she said in a telephone interview.
Carey said there have been no reports of missing pets.
DeBolt is uncertain of the age and gender of the spotted mountain lion.
"The PD just got a glimpse of it, so I am not sure," he said.
He encourages residents to not feed the deer population, which he suspects was a factor in the animal coming into town.
"Wherever there's deer, there are lions. Period," he added.
DeBolt believes another factor is the drought.
"I think the drought definitely has effect on both bears and mountain lions that are in search for food," he said.
He urges residents to be mindful of landscaping around their house and possible hiding places for cougars tracking deer.
"Outdoor lighting is also good," he said. "We also encourage reporting sightings."
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