Mountain Lion Caught in Downtown Reno

 
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Kate McGee, KUNR

A mountain lion was spotted outside Harrah's hotel-casino on Virginia Street at 5:15 Friday morning.

Reno Police Department, Fire Department and the Nevada Department of Wildlife responded to the call around 5:15 Friday morning that a mountain lion was spotted outside Harrah's Reno hotel-casino.

According to the police department, several guests reported seeing the mountain lion running in the plaza. It tried to enter the casino through the revolving door.

"When it couldn't figure that out on its own, it hung out under the stage and wandered over to some water barrels nearby," Reno Police Lieutenant Rob Van Diest said.

Wildlife officials shot three tranquilizers into the cougar and removed it from underneath the stage outside Harrahs. 

Officials believe the young two year old male weighing 90 to 100 pounds wandered along the river corridor.

Chris Healy with the Nevada Department of Wildlife says dry weather and drought conditions could play a factor in it's appearance.

But he says it was most likely looking for new territory. Healy says the mountain lion is at dispersal age -- when its mother releases it into the wild to claim its own territory.

"It shouldn't come as a surprise to people that we live among mountain lions," Healy said. "A biologist I knew once said to me, 'At any given day there's a mountain lion near the McCarran Boulevard ring road." 

Wildlife officials tagged the lion and it will be fitted with a tracking collar as part of a University of Nevada, Reno  study. The collar will allow researchers to monitor the cat's movements and habits. 

The department of wildlife is transporting the mountain lion to Carson City where it will be released back into the wild, most likely in the Carson Range.