Fact Check

Did a Mountain Lion Wander into This TV Reporter's Live Shot?

"What you’re seeing is actually a dog coming into our live shot. I think it’s a dog...," she said on live tv.

Published Feb. 15, 2024

 (Screengrab/X)
Image Via Screengrab/X
Claim:
During a live segment that was recorded and later shared online, a mountain lion wandered into a television reporter's live shot.

During a live, morning news segment filmed in Utah, a slinky, long-tailed mammal is shown sauntering past a ballcap-clad reporter.

"What you're seeing is actually a dog coming into our live shot. I think it's a dog – I'm not sure. But, anyway, there's some sort of creature below me…," the reporter stated.

But many social media users who reshared the video claimed that the animal seen in the live shot was not a dog at all, but rather a mountain lion (aka cougar). Take this post, for example, which was shared to X (formerly Twitter) on Jan. 23, 2024, (archived here). At the time of this publication, it had received more than 25,000 views:

"Morgan, I hope that's a dog too and if not, go get in the truck," an on-screen anchor responded.

To determine whether the animal was a friend or foe, Snopes reached out to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). In response to our inquiry, Faith Heaton Jolley, a spokesperson for the agency, "confirmed that the animal in that video was a dog after we did some further investigating."

Jolley referred our newsroom to Scott Root, Utah DWR conservation outreach manager, who noted that the "'cougar dog' was indeed a dog with a longer tail." Root, who also sent Snopes a photograph of the dog in question, said that his department was notified by the dog's owner at the time the video was originally recorded in 2018.

A keyword search of Google News using the phrase, "Utah mountain lion dog reporter" (archived here) returned dozens of news reports, many of which were originally published in 2018 by mainstream publications such as the New York Post, CBS News, Fox News, Inside Edition, and People.

Root identified the reporter as Morgan Saxton, a journalist whose X profile noted she reported in Salt Lake City at the time of this publication. A search through Saxton's bio page revealed that she had originally posted the video to X on Oct. 3, 2018:

In a follow-up post published that same day, Saxton wrote that Utah DWR was working to identify the animal:

Photographs of paw prints taken at the scene of the live shot showed the animal's print size compared with a human hand:

Saxton interviewed Root at the time, adding that he said the proof was in the paw print:

Finally, Saxton posted a photograph of the cougar-like canine that she said was sent to her by its owner:

If you happen to find yourself in contact with an actual mountain lion, Utah DWR recommend a few tips to keep yourself safe:

  • Never run from a cougar, since that could trigger the cougar's instincts to chase.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Pick up children and pets or keep them very close.
  • Stand up tall.
  • Do not crouch or squat.
  • Make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head.
  • Talk firmly in a loud voice, back away slowly and leave the area.
  • Fight back if you are attacked! Protect your head and neck.
  • If you are aggressive enough, the cougar will probably flee.

Sources

"Canine Or Cougar?": Mystery Creature That Crashed Reporter's Live Shot Identified - CBS Colorado. 3 Oct. 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/colorado/news/canine-cougar-mystery-creature-reporter-morgan-saxton-live-shot/.

Contact DWR Offices. https://wildlife.utah.gov/about-us/contact-dwr.html. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

Did a Mountain Lion Just Photobomb This Reporter's Live Shot? www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXbjGjjhmy8. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Dog or Mountain Lion? Mysterious Creature Interrupts Live News Broadcast Befuddling Viewers." Peoplemag, https://people.com/pets/dog-mountain-lion-mysterious-creature-interrupts-live-news-broadcast-sparks-internet-debate/. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Google News." Google News, 12 Jan. 2024, https://news.google.com.

"---." Google News, https://news.google.com. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/614clinton/Status/1745609360179712242." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/614clinton/status/1745609360179712242. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/MorganSaxtonTV/Status/1047474762186862593?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047474762186862593%7Ctwgr%5E913ec5dbccd96a6298a8646fa9d9ed8899da1f44%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpeople.com%2Fembed%3Furl%3Dhttps3A2F2Ftwitter.com2Ftwitter2Fstatus2F1047474762186862593id%3Dmntl-Sc-Block_1-0-8-iframeoptions%3De303DdocId%3D6082740." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/MorganSaxtonTV/status/1047474762186862593?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047474762186862593%7Ctwgr%5E913ec5dbccd96a6298a8646fa9d9ed8899da1f44%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpeople.com%2Fembed%3Furl%3Dhttps3A2F2Ftwitter.com2Ftwitter2Fstatus2F1047474762186862593id%3Dmntl-sc-block_1-0-8-iframeoptions%3De303DdocId%3D6082740. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/MorganSaxtonTV/Status/1047492388099248128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047492388099248128%7Ctwgr%5E7c300d8bbd1cbfe44b9e6d3c6dc408fed9789e05%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpeople.com%2Fembed%3Furl%3Dhttps3A2F2Ftwitter.com2Ftwitter2Fstatus2F1047492388099248128id%3Dmntl-Sc-Block_1-0-34-iframeoptions%3De303DdocId%3D6082740." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/MorganSaxtonTV/status/1047492388099248128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047492388099248128%7Ctwgr%5E7c300d8bbd1cbfe44b9e6d3c6dc408fed9789e05%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpeople.com%2Fembed%3Furl%3Dhttps3A2F2Ftwitter.com2Ftwitter2Fstatus2F1047492388099248128id%3Dmntl-sc-block_1-0-34-iframeoptions%3De303DdocId%3D6082740. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/MorganSaxtonTV/Status/1047502519599915009?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047502519599915009%7Ctwgr%5Eefedfbf5cb53eb2f8ebc553892afa1ea4330a5e9%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-838429066637556496.Ampproject.net%2F2401262004000%2Fframe.Html." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/MorganSaxtonTV/status/1047502519599915009?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047502519599915009%7Ctwgr%5Eefedfbf5cb53eb2f8ebc553892afa1ea4330a5e9%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-838429066637556496.ampproject.net%2F2401262004000%2Fframe.html. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/MorganSaxtonTV/Status/1047532258377138176?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047532258377138176%7Ctwgr%5E5483b62eb6a463e1fb06dc9837d7990311260ebb%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-838429066637556496.Ampproject.net%2F2401262004000%2Fframe.Html." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/MorganSaxtonTV/status/1047532258377138176?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047532258377138176%7Ctwgr%5E5483b62eb6a463e1fb06dc9837d7990311260ebb%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-838429066637556496.ampproject.net%2F2401262004000%2Fframe.html. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/MorganSaxtonTV/Status/1047548381122314240?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047548381122314240%7Ctwgr%5Eda168c2c26cb3d4d9dbcec073ff52bbc32f6fe07%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-838429066637556496.Ampproject.net%2F2401262004000%2Fframe.Html." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/MorganSaxtonTV/status/1047548381122314240?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047548381122314240%7Ctwgr%5Eda168c2c26cb3d4d9dbcec073ff52bbc32f6fe07%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-838429066637556496.ampproject.net%2F2401262004000%2Fframe.html. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

"Https://Twitter.Com/Perry_ron/Status/1749818559793189090." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/perry_ron/status/1749818559793189090. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

Mysterious Animal Steals the Spotlight in Utah Newscast (Video) | New York Post. 4 Oct. 2018, https://nypost.com/video/mysterious-animal-steals-the-spotlight-in-utah-newscast/.

Szathmary, Zoe. "Dog or Mountain Lion? Mystery Creature That Crashed Reporter's Live Shot ID'd after Heated Debate." Fox News, 3 Oct. 2018, https://www.foxnews.com/science/dog-mountain-lion-mystery-creature-crashed-reporters-live-shot-identified-after-debate.

What to Do If You Encounter a Mountain Lion in Utah. https://wildlife.utah.gov/news/utah-wildlife-news/1641-what-to-do-if-you-encounter-a-mountain-lion.html. Accessed 9 Feb. 2024.

Madison Dapcevich is a freelance contributor for Snopes.