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Mountain Lion Activity in Wood River Valley Escalates with Winter Snows
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Friday, January 7, 2022
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTO COURTESY OF IDAHO FISH AND GAME

Reports of mountain lions in and near Wood River Valley towns have increased since heavy snows began blanketing the valley.

Idaho Fish and Game began receiving more frequent reports of mountain lions starting in early December, said Terry Thompson, regional communications manager for the Magic Valley Region. And they’ve only increased as the snowpack in the Big Wood Basin climbed to 142 percent of average.

Cached prey from lion kills has been found north of Hailey, and mountain lions have been spotted with a cached elk carcass in Ketchum, and near a cached elk carcass south of Ketchum.

Residents also are reporting tracks around their homes in an area ranging from Bellevue to Ketchum.

While mountain lions are seen throughout the year, observations and incidents tend to increase during winter due to fresh snow making their tracks more visible, Thompson said.

In addition, increased numbers of deer and elk move onto winter range, often in close proximity to local communities.

“We continue to encourage residents to notify our office if they observe a lion or see tracks around their homes, or if they come across cached prey,” said Regional Conservation Officer Clint Rogers. “Our officers are always willing to work with local residents to make sure that they and their pets stay safe. Our goal is not to remove predators like mountain lions from the landscape, but instead to encourage them to continue to live in natural habitats, outside of our communities.”

Fish and Game will try to haze a problematic lion initially. It will resort to lethal removal only if the lion becomes aggressive and is determined to be a threat to public safety.

Over the years, there have been no reported attacks on people. But lions have killed and injured pets and livestock over the past several months.. Fish and Game has received reports of pets disappearing from their homes, presumably from lion predation, Thompson said.

A new website, www.wrvwildlifesmart.org provides information the public can use to live and recreate safely around Idaho wildlife.

Residents should immediately report a wildlife attack or incident—an episode in which the person must take action to cause wildlife to flee or back down—to Fish and Game at 208-324-4359 or to local law enforcement.

Sightings and encounters—unexpected meetings between wildlife and humans without incident—should be reported to Fish and Game.

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