A family living near Tetonia had its pet dog killed by a young female mountain lion Monday.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported in a news release that the lion ventured into a home’s yard and killed the dog before heading under the home’s porch. The homeowners immediately called local law enforcement who quickly responded and dispatched the lion in the interest of public safety, the release said.
“These pet owners did nothing wrong or out of the ordinary to provoke this attack,” said James Brower, Fish and Game’s regional communications manager, in the release. “Our hearts go out to them for their loss.”
The release said harsh winter weather often brings wildlife closer to towns and in conflict with people.
“Deep snow and bitter cold means that animals will be seeking lower elevations near people in search of easy meals,” Brower said in the release. “People in rural areas need to be especially vigilant and aware of their surroundings, knowing that wildlife may be closer to their homes than usual.”
Fish and Game officials have received several recent calls involving mountain lion sightings in Teton Valley and are actively working with residents to address concerns and provide safety tips and suggestions to those who live close to lions and other wildlife.
Mountain lions have existed in Teton Valley since long before human development began. Most residents, even those who have lived there for years, have never observed one, the release said. However, some residents are now seeing these secretive cats as they pass through their neighborhoods. Some reports include sightings of lions during daylight hours, which is not typical behavior.
”No matter the species, being aware of your surroundings is often the best line of defense,” the release said.
The Department of Fish and Game offered the following tips for residents who may encounter mountain lions:
Personal safety• Never run from a mountain lion. Its instinct is to chase and ultimately catch what it perceives 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!
Remember to use all of 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.
Pet safetyMountain lions are opportunistic predators, meaning they don’t know when their next meal will happen, and will often attempt to take prey when it presents itself. A lion may perceive a pet as prey. To keep pets safe, owners are strongly encouraged to follow these safety tips:
• Keep pets on a leash.
• Watch the pets’ behavior, since they may sense the lion before you can actually see them.
• Do not feed your pet outside, or leave their food dishes outside. The mountain lion will not typically be attracted by the food, but the food could attract other wildlife that could be looked at as prey by a lion.
• Before letting your pet outside, turn on lights, make noise and look to ensure the yard is clear of wildlife. Do not assume that a privacy fence will exclude a mountain lion from your yard.
• Accompany your pet outside if possible.
By nature, mountain lions are shy and will make every effort to avoid contact with humans. Homeowners can do several things to make it less likely that a mountain lion would pass through, or live near their homes and neighborhoods. These include:
• When leaving your house, be aware of your surroundings. Look and listen for signs of wildlife near your house.
• Do not feed wildlife. Elk and deer are the preferred prey for mountain lions. Un-naturally feeding elk and deer will bring in predators to the feed site.
• Strongly encourage your neighbors to not feed elk and deer. To effectively keep predators out of neighborhoods everyone must do their part.
• Do not leave your household garbage outside and unsecured. As with pet food, the garbage will not typically attract a mountain lion, but it might attract other wildlife that would be considered prey by a lion.
• Ensure that a lion cannot get under your patio or deck. These spaces can be a perfect location for a day-bed or hiding spot.
• Place covers over window wells, which can also be a place for a lion to use as a day-bed.
• Install motion-sensor lights which may discourage wildlife from staying in your yard. Lights can be directed to minimize impact on your neighbors.
Reporting mountain lion sightings and encountersEastern Idaho residents and visitors should immediately report any encounter that results in an attack to Fish and Game’s Upper Snake Regional Office at 208-525-7290 during business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If after hours, local conservation officers can be reached by calling the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 800-632-5999.
Reports can also be made to your local sheriff’s office.
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