The Wood River Valley has long attracted cougars as a historic wintering area for deer and elk herds – and recent heavy snowfalls have concentrated more deer and elk in the bottom of the valley. valley, increasing the chances of human-lion encounters.
That’s according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which said in a news release Wednesday that it has received “frequent” calls about lion activity in the Wood River Valley. since early December.
“Hidden prey of slain lions has been found in locations north of Hailey and locals are reporting tracks around their homes from Bellevue to Ketchum,” the department said Wednesday.
Fish and Game’s Magic Valley regional office has also received “numerous reports of pets disappearing from their homes, believed to be due to lion predation” over the past few months, according to the release. hurry.
With mountain lion sightings tending to peak in January, Fish and Game urges residents to remain vigilant when walking at dusk or dawn to avoid any surprise encounters. Pet owners should never leave their dogs or cats outside unattended, the department said. Homeowners should also be sure to close off spaces under porches and decks that could be used as lion nap spots.
Regional Conservation Officer Clint Rogers encouraged residents to let the office know if they see a mountain lion, see tracks around their home or find hidden prey.
“Our goal is not to eliminate predators like mountain lions from the landscape, but rather to encourage them to continue to live in natural habitats, outside of our communities,” he said Wednesday. “Fish and Game will try to scramble a lion if possible, only resorting to lethal culling if an individual has become aggressive while living among people and is determined to pose a threat to public safety.”
No mountain lion attacks on people have been reported in the Wood River Valley. However, several pets have been injured or killed, prompting Fish and Game to euthanize the offending lions in some cases.
State and federal wildlife managers have killed at least six people in the valley since 2018.
In January 2018, Fish and Game officers killed two mountain lions: an older female in Gimlet who had tried to kill an owner’s dog and a minor at Friedman Memorial Airport who had delayed a commercial flight by stepping on Track. Wildlife services officers killed a third lion that month after it was found eating a goat near Broadford Road, south of Hailey.
The following year, Fish and Game officers shot and killed two mountain lions in the Warm Springs area of Ketchum, one in January and one in December, after the animals attacked and killed residents’ dogs. In January 2020, officers euthanized a large male lion in Hailey’s Woodside Subdivision due to the animal’s proximity to children.
The department did not report any mountain lions being euthanized in 2021, but did manage to scramble two juveniles last winter that were found lying under a deck in Warm Springs.
Fish and Game has offered the following advice to anyone who might encounter a mountain lion:
- Do not run.
- If you are with children, take them without bending over.
- Don’t turn your back on the lion, crouch down, or try to hide.
- Stay facing the lion and back away slowly. Give the animal an escape route.
- Try to look as tall and confident as possible – stand on a rock or stump, raise your arms, stand next to others.
- Scream, but don’t scream. Wave your arms and throw objects if the lion does not leave the area.
- At night, remove the headphones and use a flashlight.
- Always fight if a mountain lion attacks. Use bear spray if you have it. Remain upright and use sticks, stones or hands if necessary. ￼