Man is Convinced He Spotted a Mountain Lion in West Omaha

Melina Matthes

OMAHA (KPTM)- A West Omaha man claims to have heard a mountain lion while walking his dogs along a popular trail.

"It sounded like a mountain lion."

Mike Holthaus was walking his two dogs along the West Papio Trail when he heard a chilling noise.

"It scared me and I know it would scare anybody else if it happened to them."

Holthaus says it was a cougar and he's confident about what he heard. He says seven years ago he encountered a mountain lion in the same park and it attacked one of his dogs.

"I was hoping I wasn't going to get bit next. I had two dogs with me, both of them were right there and the other dog was going crazy and they were both trying to protect me and one of them got bit."

He says his dog died of the injuries. Now he worries it could happen again.

"These are family members and so when things happen to them it's kind of disappointing."

He says he called the humane society to have them check it out. They were unable to locate a mountain lion, but they urge anyone who suspects one to call.

Since 2005, the humane society has received over 200 calls concerning suspected mountain lions, but only two have actually been confirmed in Omaha.

"One was at 114th and West Dodge, ended up being shot by the Omaha Police, but survived. Back in 2005, we had one hit and killed on the interstate by a semi, so since 2005 we have not been able to verify any of the mountain lion sightings, but we take them all very seriously," Mark Langan said.

If you encounter a suspected mountain lion don't run away. He says it's the worst thing you could do.

"Try to make yourself a big target, put your arms out to the side, walk backwards slowly from the mountain lion, always leave that mountain lion an avenue of escape cause believe me the last thing that mountain lion wants to do is have you come up on it. It wants to get away from you as much as you want to get away from it."

Officials say cougars are unpredictable and often don't stay in the same place for long. If you meet one, stay calm and don't approach it.