A mountain lion pauses in the driveway of a home in Ketchum. | Idaho Fish and Game
KETCHUM — Residents in Ketchum are reporting two mountain lions frequenting their yards, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Since Jan. 1, the Magic Valley Region has received at least 17 calls about mountain lions in the Valley, mostly from Ketchum and Hailey residents.
The lions have been seen both at night and during daylight hours. They’ve also been seen on footage from security cameras.
From video observations, biologists are calling them sub-adults — approximately one and-a-half to two years of age — and suspect they are siblings.
Public safety is number-one concern
“Fish and Game will always consider public safety as our number one priority when conflicts occur that involve people and wildlife,” officials said in a news release.
When living close to wildlife, no matter what the species, residents and visitors need to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings to reduce the potential of an encounter or attack.
Mule deer, elk and other wildlife are common throughout the Wood River Valley, even in residential areas. Most people like to see deer, elk and other wildlife. However, IDFG points out that big game living “where we live” can bring unintended consequences. Because deer and elk are the natural prey for mountain lions, when they are found within our communities since they can also attract predators, like mountain lions, since .
A mountain lion daybeds near a home in Ketchum in the winter of 2020. | Idaho Fish and Game
Wildlife managers agree on what to do if you see a mountains 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.
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 bright flashlight.
If you are attacked, fight back!
Remember, use all your senses to detect if a mountain lion is nearby.
Use a light to help you see your surroundings, both in your yard and 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) could be giving you signals you’re too close.
A mountain lion walks near the front door of a Ketchum residence. | Idaho Fish and Game
There have been no reports of attacks on pets in the Ketchum area, officials said, but a lion may see a pet as prey.
Mountain lions are opportunistic predators, meaning they don’t know when their next meal will be, and will often attempt to take prey when it presents itself. To keep pets safe, IDFG strongly encourages owners to follow these safety tips:
Keep your pets on a leash.
Watch the pets’ behavior, since they may sense the lion before you can see them.
Do not feed your pet outside or leave their food dishes outside. The mountain lion will not typically be attracted by pet 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 the 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.
Homeowners can do several things to help prevent mountain lions passing through or living near their homes and neighborhoods, according to the news release. Officials offer these guidelines:
When leaving your house, be aware of your surroundings. Look and listen for signs of wildlife nearby.
Do not feed wildlife. Elk and deer are the preferred prey for mountain lions. Un-naturally feeding elk and deer can attract predators to the feed site.
Strongly encourage your neighbors not to feed elk and deer. To effectively keep predators out of neighborhoods, everyone must do their part.
Do not leave your household garbage outside and unsecure. 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 a lion cannot get under your patio or deck. These spaces can be a perfect location for a daybed.
Place covers over window-wells, which can also be a place for a lion to use as a daybed.
Install motion-sensor lights; they may discourage wildlife from staying in your yard. Lights can be directed to minimize impact on your neighbors.
Reporting mountain lion sightings and encounters
Wood River Valley residents and visitors should immediately report any encounter with a mountain lion that results in an attack by calling 911.
It is crucial that people continue to report mountain lion sightings, as well as any encounters or missing pets, to the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359, so officers can continue to monitor the behavior of the lions and assess potential risks to public safety.
Conservation officers can only respond and investigate reports of mountain lions if reports are made by residents.
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