Not your ordinary stray kitty

Posted 4/7/05

One of Wyoming's wilder residents, a male mountain lion, dropped in on the 300 block of North Bernard for a visit, bringing a little excitement to an otherwise quiet Sunday morning.

The first indication that something was happening came about …

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Not your ordinary stray kitty


{gallery}06_02_09/mtnlion{/gallery} After receiving a dose of tranquilizer from a dart fired by Luke Ellsberry of the Wyoming Game and Fish, a mountain lion slowly relaxes on his perch at the home of Mike and Pam Masterson on North Bernard Street Sunday morning. A neighbor, Barb Perrine, spotted the cat as she was watering flowers in her yard and raised the alarm. Tribune photo by Don Amend Mountain lion makes a stop in Powell yardCats are a pretty common sight in the backyards of Powell, but the one that showed up on Bernard Street Sunday morning was a bit out of the ordinary.

One of Wyoming's wilder residents, a male mountain lion, dropped in on the 300 block of North Bernard for a visit, bringing a little excitement to an otherwise quiet Sunday morning.

The first indication that something was happening came about 6:45 a.m. when Theresa Bratt looked out the door of her home on Bernard and saw her dog run across the yard barking hysterically.

“He was just screaming,” Bratt said. “I never heard him make that noise before.”

When she opened the door, her dog came in and wouldn't go out again. Bratt went out to see what was happening, but didn't see anything unusual except for her rhubarb patch, next to the fence, which something had torn up.

“I thought, ‘Who would have done that?'” Bratt said.

About a half hour later, neighbor Barb Perrine stepped out of the back door of her home on West Fourth St. and started to water her flowers. As she worked, she sensed something wasn't quite right.

“I felt something looking at me,” she said, “so I started looking around.”

Turning around, she noticed a long tail dangling from a tree on the other side of her fence at the home of Mike and Pam Masterson.

“I thought, ‘That looks like a tail, but I've never seen a tail that big,'” she said.

Then Perrine noticed the pair of big yellow eyes watching her.

“He was looking right at me,” she said. “He really had a bead on me.”

The proper procedure in such a situation is to slowly back away from the lion to a place of safety, but Perrine chose another tactic.

“I know you're not supposed to run but I ran in the house and dialed 911,” she said. “I said, ‘There's a mountain lion by my house,' and they said, ‘There's a what?' ... I was the first one to see it and called the police. It scared the crap out of me.”

Once the police were notified, Perrine started calling neighbors to warn them to stay inside.

Soon two Powell police officers, Matt McCaslin and Matt Brilakis, arrived, armed with a rifle, and blocked off the 300 block of Bernard. The big cat, draped over a fork in the Mastersons' tree, appeared content to stay there, even seeming to doze off at times. The officers, hoping to keep him that way, kept pedestrians and vehicles away from the area while they waited for Wyoming Game and Fish personnel to come and handle the big kitty. They were joined by Powell's animal control officer, Anna Paris, another police officer, Mike Chretien and Chris Ivanoff of the Park County sheriff's office.

It took about an hour for Luke Ellsberry and Gary Brown of the Wyoming Game and Fish to collect their gear and come to the scene. Meanwhile, the Perrines, the Mastersons and the Bratts observed the lion, who was only a few yards from their windows, from the safety of their homes. A small group of curious early morning walkers and bikers gathered on Fourth Street, trying to see what was going on.

When they arrived, Ellsberry and Brown assessed the situation and quickly went to work. Fortunately, the cat was positioned with his hip exposed, providing a perfect target for a tranquilizing dart. As the drug did its work, officers and spectators gathered under the tree to watch as he slowly relaxed.

When the lion was completely out, he was brought down from the tree, and Ellsberry and Brown checked him over. Ellsbury provided the lion with a couple of blue ear tags and several officers carried him carefully to a cage trailer for transportation to a new home. By 9 a.m., the episode was over.

Ellsberry, who estimated the male lion was about 2 years old and weighed about 100 pounds, said such incidents are not common, happening “every few years.” He added that lions, especially young males, are prone to travel, and may move through town undetected.

“Young males tend to travel quite a distance trying to establish a territory,” he said.

This time, the lion had some assistance in his travels, thanks to Ellsberry and Brown, and he was no worse for wear after his visit to town.

“We took him up to the end of South Fork and released him,” Ellsberry said. “He came out of it just fine, and he'll be all right.”

As for Perrine, she said she will never forget seeing those eyes gazing at her from next door, especially when she goes out to water the flowers.