Video: Wildlife Officers Carefully Release Cougar From Trap in Utah

March 26, 2016 Updated: October 5, 2018

These officers of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources had some intense moments with a large cougar caught in a trap in southern Utah.

Cougars often get caught in bobcat and coyote traps and many times DWR conservation officer Mark Ekins gets called to release them. But this one was among the largest Ekins has ever released, he said, according to

Anytime we do something that the public doesn’t see all the time, I will video some of it.
— Mark Ekins, conservation officer

“Anytime we do something that the public doesn’t see all the time, I will video some of it,” Ekins said. Though the episode happened on Dec. 17, it wasn’t until mid-March that the video put up on YouTube.

Ekins and another officer used two catch poles to hold the animal and then removed the trap. The cougar then run away after resting for a while, the video shows.

The bobcat trapping season usually runs between December and February. Cougars get caught in the traps but many can free themselves. Even if they can’t, the traps are designed to not hurt the animals, Ekins said. Still, sometimes it cuts through their skin.

Trappers are legally obliged to report trapped cougars, but can free the animals them themselves too—if they feel comfortable enough to try. Even for Ekins, it is a nerve-straining task, he acknowledged, especially when he needs to go far into the wilderness and can’t fetch tranquilizer darts from the main office.

“If I wasn’t nervous or started to lack respect for the power of that animal, it could potentially be very dangerous,” he said. “I’m nervous and I’m extremely careful when doing it. … I’ve probably only done three in my career that were as big as the one you saw. That was a really big one.”

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