State To Confiscate Woman’s Mountain Lion From Backyard

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A mountain lion caged at an Elm Springs home is causing an uproar in the neighborhood.

Cheryl Swartout must give up her big cat to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, or face penalties from local police, according to the Elm Springs Police Department.

Swartout has been keeping a mountain lion in her yard, police said. She is listed as a volunteer for the Arkansas Wildlife Rehabilitators.

Donna Emmons, a neighbor, called authorities Tuesday night to complain about the animal, and police called the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to investigate. A representative for the state commission investigated the situation Wednesday and said they would come pick up the big cat from the home Monday.

Emmons said her daughter found the animal after she heard a growl. Emmons fears for her five-year-old grandson, as well as other children in the neighborhood, she said.

“I’m just scared for the kids,” Emmons said. “I’m scared for anybody that could be outside if this thing gets loose.”

Mark and Cheryl Swartout live at the house, according to police and property records, but neither was home Wednesday. Neighbors said Cheryl Swartout is out of town. 5NEWS contacted her by phone Wednesday, but she would not comment on the situation.

Police said owning wild game such as big cats is illegal in Elm Springs, as per city ordinances. The Swartouts will likely be cited if they refuse to give the animal up Monday, according to Elm Springs police.

The mountain lion is not visible from neighbors’ yards, and one man living nearby told 5NEWS he does not have a problem with the big cat being kept at the home.

“I’m aware that the lady has a small game rehabilitation license, and since I have no small children, it’s not of a major concern to me,” said Harold Duethit. “If I had small children, it might be a concern.”