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Mountain lion captured in Summerlin, headed back to Spring Mountains

Updated July 18, 2020 - 5:42 pm

A mountain lion that roamed a far west Summerlin neighborhood Saturday has been tranquilized and is on its way back into the wilds of the Spring Mountains, officials said.

“It will be released; it’s on its way right now,” Doug Nielsen, spokesman for the Southern Nevada division of the Department of Wildlife, said about 2:40 p.m.

Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Ken Nogle confirmed about 2 p.m. that the mountain lion had been tranquilized and was being taken away from the residential area near Vassiliadis Elementary School, 215 Antelope Ridge Drive, where it was first reported to police about 5:50 a.m. Saturday.

Nielsen said the large cat will be released in the Spring Mountain Range, which includes the Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area and Mount Charleston.

He said he wasn’t surprised that the mountain lion was seen in the newer development near Red Rock Canyon.

“There’s going to be a lot of wildlife there,” Nielsen said.

Earlier on Saturday, officers were called to the school and were watching the cat while waiting for Las Vegas Animal Control to arrive. But before they could, the officers “lost sight of the lion,” Nogle said Saturday morning.

Once it was spotted again on Saturday afternoon, Summerlin residents took to Twitter, Facebook and Next Door to post video and pictures. Nogle said it was on a trail behind the school, but it occasionally wandered near Alta Drive and prompted traffic closures.

He said officers who saw the cat on Saturday morning noted it was “not acting aggressively.”

In the Summerlin neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, Lt. Michelle Tavarez said that officers were able to contain the cat to a backyard while waiting for Department of Wildlife officials to arrive. While earlier on Saturday police estimated the mountain lion was about 70 pounds, Tavarez said it was about 110.

“It was hot and tired,” Tavarez said about the cat’s behavior during the afternoon. “We kept it contained and we kept it in the backyard.”

Mountain lions can be found throughout Nevada, although most people will never see the “pretty elusive critters,” Nielsen said during a phone interview shortly after the large cat was tranquilized.

He said the cats aren’t frequently seen in the Las Vegas Valley. Mountain lions mostly stay in higher elevations where they hunt for larger animals, but they can wander into the valley when they’re sick, searching for food, or attempting to find a new territory.

If you ever come upon a mountain lion while hiking or in a Summerlin neighborhood, Nielsen said, avoid the urge to run away, which will prompt the cat to chase. Instead, slowly back away while trying to appear large, and speak in a calm, firm voice.

Nielsen said experts estimate that 2,500 to 3,500 mountain lions live in Nevada, and the more developments spread out, the more humans will encounter the animals. He said it’s important for those who live near the Mount Charleston or Red Rock Canyon areas to make sure the cats don’t have access to food that will attract them to people.

He said people should realize that “when you come to the Mohave Desert, we do have wildlife.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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