Two conservation officers in Utah had the daunting task of freeing a large and very pissed-off cougar from a trap meant for coyotes and bobcats and totally handled it like pros.
Someone had reported that the fully adult mountain predator had been spotted in the Pine Valley Mountains in Washington County on December 17. Here’s how they freed the cat:
The conservation officers used a catch-pole to secure the cougar around the neck (for their own safety) as well as its hind leg to prevent it from jumping around and hurting itself. It took several, adrenaline-filled attempts to get it right as the cougar jumped around and growled, breaking the tree branch in the process.
With the cougar secured at both ends, the officers were able to throw a blanket over the cougar’s head and release its foot from the trap.
Once freed, the cougar sat for just a little bit panting and catching its breathe before it jumped up and ran off with the catch-pole still around its neck. The officers tracked the cougar for a bit and eventually found the spot it shook the catch-pole off.
So why not just use tranquilizers? One of the officers in the video, Mark Ekins with the Division of Wildlife Resources, explained to KUTV why using a catch-pole is safer for the animal:
“I think it’s a lot more humane and a lot safer option than sedation.”
Ekins went on to explain that tranquilizers are difficult to access and like anesthesia and humans, sometimes the animal may not wake up.
He also revealed why he was able to keep his cool through the whole process:
“I guess I respect them enough, and I’ve done it enough, that I kind of know my abilities and their abilities.”
What. A. Badass.