After being set for 10 days, Fish and Game officers have pulled the remaining mountain lion traps from a Hailey neighborhood, after capturing and euthanizing two mountain lions to protect public safety. The lions were removed after they had become habituated to living inside Hailey city limits and causing safety concerns among area residents.
A young lion was captured and euthanized on Friday, March 17.
An adult female was captured on Tuesday, March 21 and euthanized on Wednesday, March 22.
A second young lion has not been captured, despite attempts over several days. Remote cameras placed near the traps did not detect the young lion in the area over the same time period.
The decision to trap and remove the mountain lions was a result of lion behavior that progressed from sightings to the adult female hissing and baring its teeth at a Hailey resident, and indications that the lions had become very comfortable living next to homes.
The number of mountain lion reports to the Magic Valley Regional office of Fish and Game has been steadily increasing since October 1, 2022, with over 85 calls being recorded by late March. While most of the calls are observations, Fish and Game is aware of non-fatal attacks on several dogs and residents becoming increasingly concerned about lions taking up residence in their neighborhoods.
Since the onset of winter, Fish and Game conservation officers have responded to these reports by providing safety information to homeowners, helping homeowners block mountain lion access to day bed locations in and around homes and outbuildings, and when possible, using non-lethal hazing that includes using rubber slugs and buckshot, aerial cracker shells and pepper balls shot from an air rifle. All of these tactics are used in an attempt to encourage the mountain lions to leave the area.
When their enforcement duties allow, conservation officers have also been extremely busy removing numerous lion-killed deer and elk from neighborhood yards to reduce the chances of a surprise encounter with a lion protecting its food source.
Conservation officers can only respond and investigate reports of mountain lions in and around Wood River Valley communities and neighborhoods if reports are made by residents. It is crucial that residents 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 that officers can continue to monitor the behavior of the lions and assess potential risks to public safety.
Mountain lion safety
Wildlife managers agree that if a person is in close proximity to a lion, meaning they see it, they should:
- 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 very bright flashlight.
- If you are attacked, fight back!
History of lion removal in the Wood River Valley
Prior to the recent removals of two mountain lions, the last time a mountain lion was euthanized in the Wood River Valley was in in January 2020 when a large male lion was removed for public safety as it ran throughout the Woodside Subdivision. At the time of the incident, school children were being released from the local grade school. Fish and Game officers attempted to haze the lion out of the subdivision, but the lion began to exhibit increasing levels of aggression. To protect the public safety of Hailey residents and their school aged children the lion was euthanized.
In December 2019 a mountain lion was euthanized after it killed two dogs on the same morning in Ketchum, in the area of Warm Springs. The lion was tracked to an adjacent house where it was found under the deck of a home.
In January 2019 a mountain lion was euthanized after it killed a dog in Ketchum in the area of Warm Springs.
Ultimately, when lions or any other wildlife becomes a public safety issue, the most humane and responsible option, particularly when dealing with predators, is often to euthanize it, but that isn’t a decision that Fish and Game staff takes lightly.
“Fish and Game staff have ongoing discussions about wildlife and how wildlife actions can impact public safety for Wood River Valley residents and their pets,” Magic Valley Regional Supervisor Craig White said. “We will always err on the side of public safety when wildlife and people share the same space, especially when that space is in communities where families live and work.”
For more information about how to stay safe around wildlife, visit the Wood River Valley Wildlife Smart Communities website.