Trail runner hurt by cougar in Millcreek Canyon; animal found and euthanized

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SALT LAKE CITY — Wildlife officials believe they found the cougar that hurt a runner Sunday morning and euthanized the animal.

Utah Department of Wildlife Resources spokeswoman Faith Jolley said a woman and her friend were trail running on the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon around 8:30 am.

The two runners turned a corner and startled a cougar that happened to be on the trail.

“They started to back away from the trail, which is what you’re supposed to do when you encounter a mountain lion,” Jolley said. “And, as they did, the mountain lion leaped at her, and she slipped and fell backward, and its claws punctured her right leg.”

The second runner was able to hit the cougar with a rock, and the two runners got away. The cougar also left the trail and did not chase the runners.

After contacting first responders, the two runners refused an ambulance and drove to a local hospital in their own vehicle, according to Jolley.

One woman had two puncture wounds on her right leg but was cleared by the hospital and is stable.

Jolley said division officials looked for the cougar with trained hounds. One of the runners had left a shoe, giving officials an area to look for the animal.

It was later found and euthanized, as per protocol — because it had hurt a human.

Utah Department of Wildlife Resources crews use trained dogs to search for a cougar that injured a runner near the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon in Salt Lake City Sunday.
Utah Department of Wildlife Resources crews use trained dogs to search for a cougar that injured a runner near the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon in Salt Lake City Sunday. (Photo: Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL-TV)

“Just as a precaution. Whenever we do have wildlife that does injure a person, that’s part of our policy, we do have to euthanize,” Jolley said. “In this situation, we want to so we can see if it potentially has rabies or anything like that.”

“It’s pretty rare for cougars to attack people and our biologists feel that this cougar was just startled and was not seeking to prey on this woman,” Jolley said.

Jolley reminds hikers to learn more about cougars and how to handle running into one at the WildAwareUtah website.

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Lauren Steinbrecher

Lauren Steinbrecher is an Emmy award-winning reporter and multimedia journalist who joined KSL in December 2021.

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