Big cats in Glenbrook not unusual |

Big cats in Glenbrook not unusual

Lauren Theodore

Reports of a mountain lion in Glenbrook have been confirmed, and according to Cheryl Millham, executive director of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, it is not uncommon for cougars to be found in the gated community.

“This cat was a full-grown mother and had a kitten with her,” Millham said, adding that a volunteer unsuccessfully searched for the pair after the sighting was reported.

It is normal for cougars to travel through Glenbrook because the community contains an open meadow providing a great place for the cats to eat rabbits and drink out of the lake, Millham said.

Mountain lions prey primarily on deer but also feed on rabbits, sheep, elk, raccoons, wild hogs, porcupines, hares and birds.

“You don’t have a lot of meal deer in the Tahoe Basin,” said Chris Healy, spokesman for the Nevada Division of Wildlife, adding that there is not a large cougar population on the East Slope.

The West Slope has a sizable cougar population and Healy said this is the time of year yearling cubs could cause a disturbance. He emphasized that problems were primarily a West Slope concern.

According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, mothers raise their cubs alone until the young are 18 to 24 months, at which point they are left to fend for themselves. It is at this time that young cats can be unruly, Healy explained.

An adult female’s home range spans about 20 to 60 square miles. Adult males’ range can be as large as 100 square miles.

The recent sighting in Glenbrook should be no cause for concern, however, as mountain lions have inhabited the Glenbrook area for quite some time. The MLF says that there is a greater chance of being killed by a domestic dog than by a mountain lion.

Tracy Owen Chapman and her family have reason to be concerned. A little over a month ago a 4-year-old male cougar pounced through the window of her guest bedroom while a guest was hiding under her covers, afraid that an earthquake was responsible for the loud noises.

Wildlife officials said that the animal attacked its own reflection and landed in the room. The cat exited through the window he had entered and climbed a tree in front of the Chapmans’ house.

No one was hurt and the animal was tranquilized and released into the Pine Nut Mountains east of Gardnerville.

It is being tracked by John Beckmann, a doctorate student at the University of Nevada, Reno.

After an airborne surveillance Friday, Healy reported that the cougar was spotted in Markleeville and was continuing South.

“There was no lion to be found in the Basin,” Healy said, assuring that the chances for a repeat of the Chapmans’ incident were slim to none.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.