Gardnerville — Sierra Peak Tree Service will have to add cougar removal to its list of services after coaxing one out of a tree near a project March 21.
The encounter with the big cat is a reminder to Carson Valley residents wildlife are waking up, they are around and people should be aware.
“We were there to remove a fallen tree hung up over Sheridan creek just off of Foothill Road,” Sierra Peak Tree Service employee Jared Whitaker said on Facebook. “The cat wasn’t in the tree we were to remove but in one nearby, which posed a safety risk for those working on the ground. The decision was made to coax her down so work could continue. I went up in the aerial lift and tapped on limbs near the cat with a long fiberglass pole until she climbed down a ways, jumped to the ground, and took off into the brush.”
Mountain lions are more elusive than other four-legged residents like mule deer and black bears and their presence is something that must be understood and respected, Nevada Department of Wildlife Biologist Carl Lackey said.
Some people were concerned about the validity of the photo posted on social media of the cat up in the tree, as well as the video of it being rousted from its post.
“People have to realize that lions are there at any given time,” Lackey said. “There are not a lot of lions along that urban interface, but that has to do more with lion biology and densities.”
The efforts of the tree service employees could potentially help deter the cat from returning to the area, Lackey said.
While no one was hurt during the interaction, cougar included, the public is encouraged to call NDOW if they encounter a mountain lion.
“In an area like that where people are living, it is not going to hurt to harass the lion like they did,” Lackey said. “It would be a negative experience for the lion, teaching him that humans aren’t where he wants to be. If you see one leave it alone, same thing with bears. Enjoy them from a distance. Give us a call, not out of concern, but because we’d have liked to have gotten the cat captured and collared for our study.”
Like the lion, bears have started emerging from hibernation urging NDOW to continue its efforts to educate the public on being bear aware.
The state has already been fielding bear-related calls for about a month.
“Typically some of the males are starting to come out in February, it is not unusual at all,” Lackey said.
“We’re getting green up in the hills. That brings them out. Some bears like the one from up in Incline, just don’t hibernate because of the availability of food like garbage. Being bear aware is a year round responsibility. It is not a time of year to not leave your trash out when you live in an area where bears frequent.”
NDOW stresses the use of bear-resistant trashcans in areas prone to bear activity.
Also, avoiding putting trash at the curb too early can also cut down on the attraction. “With the change of season, our goal is all about education. We don’t do anything different,” Lackey said.
For more information about living along side wildlife visit www.ndow.org.
To report a mountain lion or bear call the dispatch office at 688-1331 or 688-1332.
The bear hotline can be reached at 688-BEAR.