While the whereabouts of a mountain lion roaming west of Fallon are unknown, Churchill County’s sheriff is frustrated because no one is calling his department to report sightings.
“We had one original call from a woman telling us a lion took a goat over the fence,” said Sheriff Ben Trotter, adding that dispatch also notified the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
Since last week, Trotter said no one has called the CCSO about additional sightings or people tracking it; instead, he is hearing about it on Facebook. He noted people have also called the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office in Fallon to report the mountain lion.
According to Trotter, one deputy spotted the mountain lion on Dec. 2 near the Fallon RV Park and shot it, but the cat got up and ran off. He said deputies then searched by the river for several hours looking for the mountain lion. Trotter said he understands some of the sightings have been near the Carson River and McLean Road.
“I also heard some trappers had gone out, but they haven’t called us,” Trotter said. “They’re not passing information to us.”
A wounded mountain lion worries Trotter, yet he doesn’t know if the mountain lion is still alive or died from its wounds. Trotter said the CCSO is not taking any chances.
“What concerns me it’s injured and is a dangerous animal,” Trotter added. “Judging by reports (on Facebook), it’s a big cat if it can go over a fence.”
Ironically, in a check of Facebook postings, people are telling others to safeguard their livestock but nothing has been said about protecting children and very little about pets.
But a spokesman for NDOW said he isn’t surprised with the sighting.
“It’s common for them to roam along the river channel looking for deer or small game. A mountain lion could make a living on what’s out there,” said Chris Healy. “In a drought year, mountain lions are drawn to the river.”
Healy said because of the drought, mountain lions and coyotes are all crowded around the river bed. He said for the most part, both the mountain lions and coyotes tend to stay away from humans and are out in the early morning or dusk looking for prey.
Healy said the mountain lion sighted last week could have been a male about 18-24 months old. Once male mountain lions reach that age, Healy said the mother will kick them out so that they can find a new place to live and to find their own food.
Healy said residents must also be vigilant to keep their pets on a leash.
Trotter said joggers should be aware of their surroundings and not block out noise with their headphones. Additionally, Healy said hikers who make some noise will give animals plenty of notice to stay away.
The news about a mountain lion roaming near Fallon is nothing new. Trotter said the CCSO and NDOW have heard of previous reports over the years about mountain lions roaming near the Carson River.
Earlier this year, a mountain lion was spotted roaming in Reno. In April 2013, NDOW game wardens killed a mountain lion that was reported roaming through several Elko residential neighborhoods.
The NDOW website also says “mountain lions are adapted to a wide variety of habitats and environmental conditions found in Nevada. They prefer dense cover or rocky, rugged terrain, but also occur in desert areas.”
Trotter said individuals who see a mountain lion near populated areas should call the CCSO at 775-423-3116 or the NDOW dispatch office at 775-688-1331 or 775-688-1332.