Utahns are accustomed to the risks of wilderness—we, hike, we climb, we ride the white water and the white powder. But City Creek Canyon is right downtown, the hiking/biking trail is paved and the hilltops on both sides are topped with neighborhoods. This is a great short hike for older folks, parents with strollers, wheelchairs and, on certain days, cyclists and dog walkers. One man takes his parrot for walks in City Creek (he has a backpack birdcage.) It sort of feels like you’re in someone’s backyard. Almost. “This wilderness is a legacy of watershed protection,” says Patrick Nelson, Watershed Program Manager. And wilderness comes with risks: Beside the deer, elk, turkeys and birds, there are Great Basin rattlesnakes, bobcats, bears and mountain lions—last December, U of U’s camera traps captured a mother mountain lion and two cubs near the reservoir.
Several entities have an interest in observing the wildlife (and human life) along City Creek Canyon. SLC Public Utilities needs to keep an eye on the water treatment plant and the watershed. The U surveys wildlife for studies, as does the DNR. All emphasize one thing: City Creek Canyon is a wild environment.
If you encounter a cougar, here’s what to do:
*Pick up your kids so they won’t run. When you are picking children up, keep eye contact with the cougar and try not to bend over too far or turn your back to the cougar.
*Don’t run. The animal will perceive you as prey (which you kind of are.)
*Make eye contact with the cougar, which cougars consider
*Fight back If you are attacked, protect your head and neck. The neck is the target for the cougar. If the cougar thinks it is not likely to win its fight with you quickly, it will probably give up and leave.
*NOW BREATHE a sigh of relief..
(Hey. City Creek reservoir is also an important source of Salt Lake’s drinking water. So, please pick up after your dog and don’t take Fido past the clearly-marked watershed boundary.)