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Mountain Lion and Bear Sightings Concern Fish and Game Officers
A resident managed to capture this photo of a black bear walking through their back yard. COURTESY: Jeff Rohlman/Idaho Fish and Game
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Wednesday, September 6, 2023


Residents in the northern part of the Wood River Valley are reporting numerous sightings of mountain lions and black bear to Fish and Game staff in the Magic Valley Region.

The most recent lion reports are primarily coming in from Ketchum and Sun Valley and are typically of a solitary mountain lion, but there have been sightings of a pair of mountain lions in Sun Valley. Fish and Game has continued to receive multiple reports of mountain lions in Hailey and Bellevue throughout the summer months. 

“The frequency of these reports and the apparent habituation to humans by these lions and black bear is concerning” said Regional Wildlife Manager Mike McDonald. “We’re hearing from local residents that both the lions and bear are not exhibiting fear towards human activity. Mountain lions and black bears should not feel comfortable living within our communities.”

Wildlife biologists attribute the ongoing presence of mountain lions to resident deer and elk that live throughout the Valley year-round. 

To keep both residents and pets safe, Fish and Game is urging everyone to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially during early morning and evening hours when mountain lions are typically more active. That said, sightings of mountain lions and black bears have been occurring throughout the day. 

“We continue to hear that some in our communities advise against calling Fish and Game when a mountain lion or black bear is seen in a neighborhood or becomes involved in some type of conflict. They assert that calling will always result in animals being euthanized. That statement is not true,” said Senior Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd.

“We will always encourage people to notify us if they observe a lion or bear in their neighborhood,” he added. “Early reports from residents allow us to be proactive in our efforts to encourage these animals to move out of local neighborhoods. We have proactive options to deter wildlife, such as hazing. If we are forced to be reactive in response to an aggressive animal, often our only option is to lethally removal the animal that has become a threat to public safety.”

Personal safety around mountain lions

Wildlife managers agree that if a person is in close proximity to a lion, meaning they see it, they should:

  • NEVER run away from a mountain lion. The lion’s instinct is to chase and ultimately catch what they perceive as a potential prey.
  • NEVER turn your back on a lion. Always face them while making yourself look as large as you can. Yell loudly, but don’t scream. A high-pitched scream may mimic the sound of a wounded animal.
  • SLOWLY back away while maintaining eye contact with the lion. 
  • Safety equipment you may choose to carry could include bear spray, a noise device, like an air-horn, and if you walk in the dark, a very bright flashlight.
  • If you are attacked, fight back!

Tips to reduce human-wildlife conflicts

Homeowners are asked to check around their homes and reduce the potential for a lion to find refuge around their homes. Areas under decks should be blocked so that lions cannot access the space for a day bed. All doors to barns and backyard sheds should be securely closed so that lions cannot gain access to these spaces.

For bears, household garbage should be securely stored until the day of pick-up and all bird feeders should be taken down. During the fall months, bears are putting a tremendous amount of effort into eating as much as they can in anticipation of going into hibernation. 

When walking your dog, keep it on leash. When letting pets outside, especially at night, turn on porch lights and make noise so that any wildlife that might be in close proximity is alerted. Attacks can often be the result of surprise encounters, with both people and pets.

The Wood River Valley Wildlife Smart Communities coalition has developed a website that residents can use to learn more about how to safely live in proximity to wildlife

Residents should immediately report any wildlife incident or attack by calling 911. 

Mountain lion and black bear sightings and encounters should be reported to Fish and Game during regular business hours by calling the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359 or to your local law enforcement agency.


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