Early on the morning of Jan. 30 a woman responded to what she thought was a fight between her dog and another dog outside of her Mackay home. As she pulled the two animals apart, she realized that in one hand she held a juvenile, male mountain lion about 35 pounds, and not another dog as she expected.
The woman restrained both her dog and the mountain lion while yelling for her husband, who was still inside the house, to grab a gun. Her husband responded and quickly dispatched the mountain lion as she held on to it.
The couple immediately called the local authorities, and a Fish and Game officer arrived within 30 minutes of the incident. The responding officer retrieved the mountain lion carcass for testing at the Wildlife Health and Forensic Laboratory to determine if disease may have played a part in the lion’s behavior.
The woman and her dog both appear to be doing fine, but did sustain some scratches during the encounter. She was advised by the Fish and Game officer to seek the attention of her doctor.
This was the third incident in January of a mountain lion attacking a dog. A dog was killed by a mountain lion in the Ketchum area, and another dog in the Bellevue area was attacked and later died from its injuries.
Also in January, a young, female mountain lion was killed by police in Lava Hot Springs after it was reported wandering through town and showing little fear of humans. The lion was malnourished and appeared blind in one eye.
People who live near wintering deer should understand there is likely to be mountain lions nearby, too, and they should be aware of their surroundings, and not leave their pets outside and unattended, especially in early mornings, late evenings and at night when mountain lions are most active.
Idaho has an abundant and sustainable mountain lion population, but when lions attack pets, come too close people and communities, it creates a potential public safety hazard. Fish and Game officials are unwilling to take that risk and let them wander freely in towns.
Idaho has never had a recorded incident of a mountain lion killing a person, but two human fatalities by mountain lions occurred in Oregon and Washington in 2018, along with numerous other incidents of mountain lions encroaching in populated areas in Idaho.
Mountain lion incidents in 2018
Lion found in schoolyard in Southwest Idaho (killed)
Two mountain bikers in Washington attacked by a lion, one killed and the other injured.
Lion killed in chicken coop in Hayden.
Lion shot in backyard near Best Avenue in Couer d’Alene by a resident.
Hiker killed by lion in Oregon
Hunter attacked by lion in Utah (survived)
Mountain lion captured from a tree in Coeur d’Alene near the Kootenai Medical Center. The cat was euthanized by Fish and Game staff to protect public safety.
Tips for people who might encounter a mountain lion
- Do not run.
- If you are with children, pick them up without bending over.
- Do not turn your back on the lion, crouch down, or try to hide.
- Remain facing the lion and slowly back away. Leave the animal an escape route.
- Try to appear as large as possible — stand on a rock or stump, hold up your arms, stand next to others.
- Shout, wave your arms, and throw objects if the lion does not leave the area.
- Fight back if a mountain lion attacks. Stay on your feet and use sticks, rocks, backpack, hands to fight back. Use bear spray if you have it.
- Never approach a mountain lion or offer it food.
Here is more information about dealing with mountain lions, including how to avoid attracting them to your property.