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October 3, 2008



Nice kitty. Now, go away.

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By her own admission, Beverly Hood is fond of cats. So she wasn't troubled when she looked out a window of her home in the heart of Casper, Wyo., earlier this week and saw one resting on the back porch, its head propped against the door. But it had no collar, suggesting that it wasn't somebody's pet. And then it stood up and hissed at her. "I just thought, 'Whoops, I'm not going out there,' " she recalled later. Instead, she called 9-1-1 as well as the state Game and Fish Department. First to respond was Casper patrolman Mike Ableman. "Are you sure," he asked his dispatcher as he headed for the scene, "that it's just an ordinary cat and not a cougar?" (Or words to that effect.) Yep, just a house cat, he was assured. Wrong – as he quickly discovered. "Maybe you shouldn't go back there," Beverly greeted him; "It's pretty big." Ableman went anyway. But not for long. The animal, a young male weighing roughly 90 pounds, was on its feet again and looking right at him. He prudently joined Beverly inside the house and called for backup. Ultimately, Game and Fish agents arrived and shot the critter with a tranquilizer dart. When that wasn't sufficient, they fired a second time to keep it from wandering the neighborhood and scaring other people. It would be relocated to "a suitable habitat away from people or livestock," a wildlife supervior told reporters. The visit to Beverly's home was the second in Casper by mountain lions in less than two months, and it may not be the last. But typically, they aren't dangerous to humans, the supervisor said. That's what Beverly thought, too. It looked well groomed, she said, "and it only hissed at me once."

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