ELKO — A mountain lion reported roaming through Elko residential neighborhoods Monday morning has been killed by state officials, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
The animal, a mature male, was considered a threat to public safety because it was walking around as young children were headed to school in a highly populated area, said Joe Doucette, NDOW regional outdoor education coordinator.
It was walking near the boundary of the Indian Colony and the Interstate 80 fence when NDOW officials found it and decided to put it down, Doucette said.
NDOW does not believe any other mountain lions are in the area, Doucette said, as they are solitary animals.
At least two residents called law enforcement Monday morning to report the cat, according to Elko dispatch. The Elko Police Department responded to the calls along with NDOW when they found the animal, said police Capt. Will Lehmann.
“Never in my 22 years here have I seen a mountain lion in town, but for some reason this one came in and we don’t know why,” Lehmann said. “And to be in town running in the sagebrush, that’s kind of weird.”
Doucette said mountain lions do sometimes stray into populated areas when they are looking for food or when they are ranging across large distances. He also didn’t remember a mountain lion in town in the 13 years he’s lived here.
“They are solitary creatures, so the chances of another lion being around are slim,” Doucette said. “We’ve had them in Spring Creek and Jarbidge and Mountain City, but it’s really rare to have them near Elko.”
One person who saw the mountain lion was Elko resident Faith Lassiter, who lives on Skyline Drive. She woke up Monday morning, opened her blinds and came face-to-face with the lion.
“It was a huge surprise,” Lassiter said. “I was gobsmacked.”
Lassiter said she was about to open the door to her backyard for her dog to go out before she saw the lion.
“He looked at me and hissed, but didn’t turn to run or anything,” Lassiter said. “The hiss was amazing because they have a lot of big teeth.”
Her dog, a pit bull named Stress, had his nose pressed to the glass and was whining with his tail sticking up, Lassiter said.
The mountain lion stood there for a beat before walking across the yard and hopping over an 8-foot wooden fence.
“He hopped the fence like it was nothing,” Lassiter said.
She later went out and looked at the lion’s tracks in the snow, which seemed to move from north to south across her yard.
“He did a little circle in the yard,” Lassiter said, “and stopped to sniff at the flowers.”