Saturday, September 19, 2020
Cougar Kills Mare Near Hailey
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Tuesday, August 25, 2020
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

A mountain lion attacked and killed a mare in Croy Canyon over the weekend.

The older mare was being pastured in the Red Elephant Gulch region of Croy Canyon west of Hailey where it was found the on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 23. The area is near Kelly Mountain past Rotarun Ski Area and the BMX track.

Idaho Fish and Game officers are not sure whether the mare was killed at night or during the day. The cougar killed the mare by crushing its neck and spine with its powerful jaws. It did not eat any portion of the animal.

Traps have been set in an effort to locate the mountain lion responsible for the attack.

“It’s not common for lions to kill horses, but lions are opportunistic. And any time you have domestic livestock in lion country, there’s a chance something like this could happen,” said Terry Thompson, regional communications manager for Idaho Fish and Game. “One of the homeowners who has lived in the area for 20 to 25 years said they’ve never had issues before. But she will be pasturing her horses closer to the house at night.”

To be on the safe side, livestock owners should pasture their animals in corrals or sheds at night, said Thompson. “But I don’t know how realistic that is—there are quite a few horses out in pasture. The key thing is to be aware of your stock and whether they seem nervous.”

This marks the 97th lion sighting, attack or encounter since the first report on July 12, 2019, in the Magic Valley Region, Thompson said. At least 90 of those have been in the Wood River Valley. The others have taken place in Kimberly, Buhl, and Murtaugh near the South Hills, which has a healthy population of mountain lions.

A handful of dogs were killed or attacked in December 2019 and January 2020 in an area ranging from Indian Creek near Hailey to Ketchum’s Warm Springs neighborhood. But there have been no reports of attacks on pets since. There has never been a cougar attack on humans in this area to anyone’s knowledge.

It’s believed that mountain lions tend to frequent the Wood River Valley during winter when the deer and elk come down out of the mountains. But recent sightings confirm that they spend time in the valley year-round, Thompson said.

In fact, there was a sighting of a lion in Ketchum’s Warm Springs area last week and another earlier near Boxcar Bend along Highway 75 south of Ketchum.

“The Wood River Valley has resident deer and elk, plus plenty of rabbits, squirrels, skunks and even pets. So, from a lion’s viewpoint, there’s plenty of food,” said Thompson.

The stress of drought and heat may have driven some deer and elk out of the hills earlier than usual this year, Thompson said.

“We have anticipated more bears in the valley because the berry crops are not as strong as usual,” he added.

Fish and Game’s biologists have been trying to figure out if they can design a monitoring program that would allow them to determine how many mountain lions live in the area and how those lions use the landscape, Thompson said. But such a program would be expensive because of the camera equipment they would need to buy. And they would have to put radio collars on some animals, including possibly lions.

IF YOU ENCOUNTER A MOUNTAIN LION:

* NEVER run away from a mountain lion. The lion’s instinct is to chase and ultimately catch what they perceive as 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.

* CONSIDER CARRYING bear spray and a noise device like an air-horn. If you walk in the dark, carry a very bright flashlight.

* IF YOU ARE ATTACKED, fight back!

* USE ALL YOUR SENSES to detect if a mountain lion is near. Using a light to help you see your surroundings is very important, both in your yard, or as you walk in your neighborhood. If you run or bike for personal fitness, use caution when wearing headphones which take away your ability to hear if a lion or any other wildlife is giving you signals that you’re too close.

REPORT any encounter that results in an attack to the Magic Valley Regional Office at 208-324-4359 during business hours, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. If after hours, local conservation officers can be reached by calling the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1-800-632-5999.

Reports can also be made to the Blaine County Sheriff at 208-788-5555.

Mountain lion sightings and observations should be reported to the Fish and Game, Magic Valley Regional Office at 208-324-4359.

 


 

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