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Mountain Lion Killed in Hailey’s Woodside Neighborhood
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Friday, January 31, 2020
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Idaho Fish and Game killed a mountain lion in Hailey’s Woodside neighborhood Thursday afternoon after receiving multiple reports of a lion around Hailey and even outside a school.

Idaho Fish and Game officers supported by local law enforcement tried to haze the lion with buck shot fired from a shotgun. But when it didn’t move, they euthanized it in the interest of public safety.

Idaho Fish and Game officers received reports of lion sightings throughout Thursday, beginning with a Facebook video a woman posted of a mountain lion running down the middle of Fox Acres Road, according to a Fish and Game officer. (One reader later clarified it was Countryside Boulevard.)  It crossed Highway 75 and ran into the chain link fence at Friedman Memorial Airport.

It then turned around and crossed back to the east side of the highway.

Later in the day officers responded to a report of a lion near Bellevue Elementary. They were unable to locate it but stationed officers around the school as a safety precaution while children were leaving school for the day.

About an hour later, they got a report of a cat roaming the Woodside subdivision. Once located, it continued to run through neighborhood yards before taking refuge under a tree. They fired buckshot at it until they finally decided to euthanize it.

“It was a Tom cat, four to five years old, between 120 and 130 pounds. A very healthy adult male,” said Terry Thompson, communications officer for Idaho Fish and Game.

Thompson said officers tried to clear the area of people before shooting out of safety concerns. But some onlookers stood behind them watching as the cat was first hazed, then euthanized.

“There was no other way to do it, given the situation,” Thompson said. “We could not let it continue to roam a neighborhood with as many residents are there are in Woodside. Due to the close proximity to dense neighborhood housing and public schools we had to euthanize it in the interest of public safety.”

Biologists are not confident the cat that was euthanized was the same one seen near Bellevue elementary earlier in the day.

The number of sightings this year is concerning, especially since reports indicate that lions are not displaying what Fish and Game officers would call normal behavior, said Regional Supervisor Craig White.

“Lions are typically shy and active at night. But reports, such as we had today, are of lions that are active during the day. That is not the desired cat behavior,” he added.

While there have been no reports of cats killing pets since December, mountain lions are very much making their presence known.

Idaho Fish and Game has received more than 60 reports of mountain lion sightings throughout the Wood River Valley since Dec. 5.

Recent reports seem to be situated in the Hailey area. But that doesn’t mean they’ve moved out of Ketchum, Thompson said.

“It’s interesting that the majority of reports have moved south. But they’re still very much throughout the valley,” he said, noting multiple reports of mountain lion sightings throughout the Wood River Valley in Gimlet, Warm Springs, north Ketchum, Elkhorn, Northstar Meadows and North Hiawatha Drive off Butter Cup Road in Hailey, Griffin Ranch, Chantrelle Subdivision and Broadford road in Bellevue.

Thompson said people who see a lion should call Fish and Game or local law enforcement at 208-324-4359  or 208-788-5555 so they can continue to monitor the situation.

“We have seen an increase in activity and we are concerned about public safety. We do not want to instill panic—it hasn’t risen to that level. But we do want people to be vigilant.”

Fish and Game has gotten some pushback from euthanizing the cat.

“It’s easy to second guess when you’re not responsible for public safety,” Thompson said. “We will never apologize for doing something in the interest of public safety.”

People should keep small children, cats, dogs and other pets inside, if possible.

Don’t feed pets outside during winter and accompany them during nighttime hours when they need to go out to pee. Watch your animals for unusual behavior, which may alert you that wildlife could be nearby.

 

 

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