Although there was not an actual big cat sighting, a Churchill County resident discovered paw tracks on his property located north of Wildes Road and an irrigation canal.
Others in the area have also reported on their Facebook pages of seeing cat tracks.
Paul Ford said on Tuesday he saw a week ago the tracks and a mallard that had been mauled.
“I went walking and found a mallard torn up real bad. I took the carcass and put it on the fence post,” he said. “On Thursday, the carcass was completely devoured and the tracks were there.”
Ford took photos of the cat tracks, and contacted the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Churchill County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Ben Trotter said he has not seen any recent reports on any known animal attack or missing livestock.
“A lion was reported (on Facebook) about three weeks ago on Harrigan Road,” Trotter said. “The Facebook post was three hours after it was supposedly seen, and I don’t know if we were ever called even after the Facebook post.”
John Swisher, a game warden with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and a biologist met with Ford on Monday afternoon.
“It could be a large bobcat (45-50 pounds) or a small mountain lion,” Swisher said of the tracks. “It’s not a mature cat like we would see along the river.”
Swisher also said some of the reports people see on Facebook are sometimes two to three weeks old and some users are posting hearsay or hand-me-down reports.
Ford said this winter he has seen only one rabbit near his property when in previous years, he has seen many.
The drought has made sightings like these all too common. During years when the valley receives precipitation, Ford doesn’t remember seeing mountain lion or other cats’ tracks this close to town.
“Last year was nothing like this,” he said.” Two nights ago I saw about 11 deer trying TO get away from something.”
Reports of a horse being attacked by a mountain lion near Ford’s house do not appear to be true.
Judy Evans said something happened to her horse about a month and a half ago when it suffered a wound on its shoulder. Although Ivan and Judy Evans tried to nurse the horse back to health, Judy Evans said the veterinarian eventually had to euthanize the horse.
Dr. Jeff Oyler, a veterinarian with Lahontan Valley Veterinary Clinic, said the horse suffered an injury on the left leg. Because of the horse’s age and recovery, though, Oyler said the horse was put own.
According to Oyler, he cannot say if the horse was or was not attacked.
Judy Evans said, however, the last time she saw cat tracks near their property occurred in August, and they were larger than the ones Ford photographed last week.
This latest report is coming two months after the first mountain lion sighting on Dec. 2 in an RV park area west of Fallon. A deputy who later arrived on the scene shot the mountain lion from a distance, wounding it.
Other residents in the area had also reported a big mountain lion roaming along the Carson River Corridor near McLean Road.
A game camera attached to a resident’s house in the vicinity of Alcorn Road and Santa Fe Drive snapped a photo of a mountain lion in mid-December.
A Churchill County resident shot a mountain lion, also in mid-December after it attacked ducks on his property about seven miles southwest of Fallon near Powerline Road.
NDOW said it was not the same mountain lion shot by the deputy.
NDOW spokesman Healy said some of the mountain lions may be having difficulty finding food because of the effects of this year’s drought, and that’s why they have been roaming in areas with pooled water.
Healy also said young mountain lions tend to roam together in pairs.
Swisher, though, said a trap was placed near the river about three weeks ago, but the area has been quiet.
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.