An Idaho Department of Fish and Game officer shot a mountain lion Saturday after it killed a dog in the Warm Springs area of Ketchum.
According to a news release from the department, a Fish and Game conservation officer received a report from a woman that a mountain lion was in her backyard. At around the same time, the woman’s neighbor notified her that his dog was missing.
The neighbor then saw the dog lying dead under a tree with the mountain lion next to it, and the woman called Fish and Game again and reported the mountain lion had killed her neighbor’s dog.
Regional Wildlife Manager Mike McDonald said the calls came in about mid-morning Saturday. He said the dog was a wire-haired bird hunting-type dog, weighing about 60 pounds.
Fish and Game requested assistance from the Ketchum Police Department, and a police officer was first to respond to the scene. A Fish and Game officer arrived shortly after and evaluated the incident site, determining that the mountain lion had killed and consumed part of the dog.
With the assistance of the Police Department, the conservation officer tracked the mountain lion to the yard next door, within 200 feet of the incident, where he shot the cat. The lion was a 6- to 7-year-old, nonlactating female.
“We euthanized the lion safely, quickly and humanely, in accordance with our protocol for lions that show habituation to humans or pets in residential areas,” Fish and Game Magic Valley Region Supervisor Craig White said.
McDonald said the lion was shot sometime in the early afternoon.
The incident comes in the midst of increased mountain lion sightings in the Wood River Valley, from Ketchum to Bellevue. According to the release, Fish and Game officials have received multiple reports of mountain lions in the same area that the lion was killed, near the confluence of Warm Springs Creek and the Big Wood River. The department reported that it is unknown whether the sightings were of the mountain lion that was killed.
In mid-January, a lion attacked a dog in Bellevue, which later died from its injuries. Attempts to locate and trap that lion were unsuccessful.
Also in January, a young female mountain lion was killed by police in Lava Hot Springs in southeastern Idaho after it was reported wandering through town and showing little fear of humans. The lion was malnourished and appeared blind in one eye.
“We want to remind people who have wintering deer and elk nearby that there is likely going to be mountain lions nearby, too,” White said. “People also need to take precautions, be aware of their surroundings and not leave their pets outside and unattended.”
The department stated that Idaho has an abundant mountain lion population, but lions’ becoming too comfortable near people creates a public safety hazard. Fish and Game officials are unwilling to take that risk and let them wander freely in towns.
According to Fish and Game, Idaho has never had a recorded incident of a mountain lion killing a person.
Two human fatalities by mountain lions occurred in Oregon and Washington in 2018, along with numerous incidents of mountain lions encroaching in populated areas in Idaho. In May, two people mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle were attacked by a lion; one was killed and the other was injured. In August, a lion killed a woman hiking near Mount Hood, Ore.
The Department of Fish and Game provided tips for people who might encounter a mountain lion:
- Do not run.
- If you are with children, pick them up without bending over.
- Do not turn your back on the lion, crouch down or try to hide.
- Remain facing the lion and slowly back away. Leave the animal an escape route.
- Try to appear as large as possible—stand on a rock or stump, hold up your arms, stand next to others.
- Shout, wave your arms and throw objects if the lion does not leave the area.
- Fight back if a mountain lion attacks. Stay on your feet and use sticks, rocks, backpack, hands to fight back. Use bear spray if you have it.
- Never approach a mountain lion or offer it food.