Reports of a mountain lion in the city limits of Salmon continue to come in to Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game. Most reports are sightings of a single, young lion moving through yards and streets on the Bar Hill.
Understandably, residents are concerned.
Fish and Game, as well as city officials share this concern, and are actively working to trap and remove the elusive lion. Multiple live traps have been set and motion cameras installed to determine areas it frequents. Unfortunately, these efforts have been unsuccessful, but will continue until the lion is captured.
The lion appears to be a small sub-adult weighing approximately 40-50 pounds. It is likely out on its own for the first time and has found a good food source with the deer and chicken flocks in town.
“Locating and capturing a very secretive animal is very challenging, especially amongst all the houses, pets, and chicken flocks in the area,” said Dennis Newman, Fish and Game wildlife manager. “But we take these reports very seriously, and we will continue to utilize every tool we have until we capture it.”
The use of tracking hounds has been considered, but their use amongst all the people and multiple properties raises other potential concerns such an abundance of housecats and other pets, spooking livestock, unwilling landowners, risk of baying the cat in an dangerous location, not to mention the safety of the hounds with traffic.
"Of course, public safety is our number one concern, but using hounds in an urban setting is difficult and risky considering all the other unforeseen conflicts,” said Newman.
Though encounters between people and mountain lions are rare, here are some points to keep in mind if you encounter a mountain lion.
By nature, mountain lions are shy and will make every effort to avoid contact with humans. However, 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 a potential prey.
- NEVER turn your back on a lion, crouch down, or try to hide. 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. Leave the animal an escape route.
- 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.
Mountain 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. To keep pets safe, owners are strongly encouraged to follow these safety tips:
- Secure sheep, goats, and poultry in a secure building at night.
- Keep your dogs on a leash.
- Watch the pets’ behavior, since they may sense the lion before you can actually see them.
- Do not feed your pets 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 are prey to a lion, including raccoons and skunks.
- Before letting your dog 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 dog outside if possible.
Homeowners can do several things to make it less likely that a mountain lion would pass through, or live near their homes and neighborhood. These include:
- 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.
- Install motion-sensor lights or lawn sprinklers which may discourage wildlife from staying in your yard.
Reporting mountain lion sightings
Residents should immediately report any sighting to the Salmon Fish and Game Office at (208) 756-2271 during business hours, or the Lemhi County Dispatch at 208-756-4201.
For more information about mountain lions, read the Living with Mountain Lions brochure found on Fish and Game’s website at https://idfg.idaho.gov/sites/default/files/brochure_living-with-mtn-lion...