Posts tagged: mountain lion
Three next-door neighbors in east Boise have had their small dogs attacked by a mountain lion in their fenced back yards in the past two weeks, and two of the dogs have died. Fish & Game officials are calling on the public to immediately report incidents with mountain lions in town. The three attacks happened at Surprise Valley, a neighborhood on the city’s eastern edge that backs up to native sagebrush land; it’s the first mountain lion incident reported in Boise this spring, but the city’s had plenty in recent years. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
“We have mountain lions in Boise all the time,” said Evin Oneale, Southwest Idaho regional conservation educator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “They come and go all the time. Some of them we see, some of them we don’t, but they don’t tend to cause any issues or hang around. It’s when we have a lion like this that exhibits this kind of behavior that our awareness of the situation becomes heightened.”
Fish & Game learned of the big cat when a Surprise Valley resident called the sheriff’s department yesterday morning. She’d let her two Yorkshire terriers out into her backyard about 5:30 a.m., and a few minutes later, heard a yelp; click below to read more.
It turns out that mountain lions could be wandering the Boise River greenbelt at any time, preying on stay cats and squirrels, staying undercover, and keeping away from humans - and that's fine. The problem with the half-grown cat that was shot by police last night around midnight was that it had stopped behaving like a resident of the wild, and more like a townie - after its picnic on a deer carcass in a Warm Springs Mesa resident's front-yard flower garden, the lion had moved into town and stayed, gone for several jogs on the greenbelt, and then hung out on the BSU campus, where it was inside a Dumpster at the student union, feasting on garbage, when it was spotted.
“We did make a couple of attempts to try to get it out of town, and unfortunately, it stayed in town,” said Matt O'Connell, senior conservation officer at Idaho Fish & Game, shown here. The first plan was to use “aversive conditioning,” firing rubber bullets at the big cat to scare it back into the foothills it came from, when it was still in the Warm Springs Mesa neighborhood where it killed the deer, right across the street from a deep ravine leading back into the hills. But once it moved into town, that wouldn't have worked, and tranquilizing the animal could compromise it, O'Connell said, possibly sending it running into traffic or other trouble before the tranquilizer could take effect. “Employees saw the cat in a Dumpster on campus right near the student union,” he said. “The cat had kind of crossed the line between normal behavior,” and was going after human-provided - not natural - food sources.
Boise typically sees “one or two cats a year that wander into town,” O'Connell said. Typically, when humans encounter mountain lions, “Normally, the lion is going to run,” he said. “Lions are very wary of people. They're very clever at hiding. Most of the time it's not a worrisome thing.” He added, “If they stay on the greenbelt mostly out of sight, nobody knows about it.”
O'Connell said he was “disappointed” at the result this time, but added, “At least now people can use the greenbelt” without worrying about the big cat. “I feel bad for the animal,” he said. “I never like to see an animal, especially a young one like this, dying, but sometimes it's just the reality of what we have to do.”
The mountain lion that had been prowling downtown Boise and the Greenbelt since the weekend was shot last night around midnight by Boise Police, after it was spotted near a Dumpster in the area around the student union building at Boise State University. “They did take it out,” said Idaho Fish & Game spokesman Mike Keckler. “We did take possession of the cat.” The mountain lion turned out to be a young, subadult female, about 50 to 60 pounds.
“She'd probably been chased away by her mother; by this point the mother's raising new kittens, and then tend to run off the older ones because they're busy with the new ones,” Keckler said. “A lot of times these young cats are trying to find their way, and in this case, this cat ended up in town and was staying in town, and as such did not make a good candidate for relocation.”
The Boise Police Department said in a news release, ” Ada County Dispatchers began receiving calls from citizens at approximately 11:30 p.m. last night indicating the mountain lion was in the area of BSU and the greenbelt, just north of the stadium. Idaho Fish and Game officers, along with Boise Police responded to the location. On the advice of Fish and Game officials, the cat was shot as it walked across the greenbelt pathway. Fish and Game have taken the animal into their custody. It is unfortunate that the incident ended this way, however, safety for the citizens of Boise has to be the primary concern when conflicts of this nature take place in an urban environment like downtown Boise.”
Boise Police and Fish & Game officials are on the lookout for a mountain lion that's been sighted repeatedly in town; people are being asked to call city police immediately if they spot the big cat, a 70-pound juvenile male. The mountain lion is apparently making its way in leisurely fashion from the Warm Springs Mesa area, where it feasted on a deer carcass in a resident's front yard on Friday night, down toward the Boise River Greenbelt - it was seen crossing Warm Springs Avenue and hitting the Greenbelt on Saturday night about 11:30. Then, early this morning, two reports came in of a mountain lion on the Whole Foods construction site near Broadway and Myrtle, followed by a report of the cat running east on the Greenbelt near Bronco Stadium.
“Chances are that cat probably either left the area or is bedded down 'til nighttime - they're nocturnal,” said Idaho Fish & Game spokesman Mike Keckler. “It might have just wandered down and wandered back where it came from.”
Keckler said the initial sighting came when the neighbor spotted a deer carcass, and then noticed a bit later that it had moved about 20 feet. “It was a mountain lion kill,” Keckler said. “Apparently the lion had dragged this carcass back and was feeding on it in a flower garden. When we got up there, the lion was gone. They waited and waited and waited and it didn't come back, so they removed the carcass.”
Mountain lion sightings aren't uncommon in Boise, Keckler said. “We live in prime mountain lion habitat here. The Boise Front is right here next to us, so it's not uncommon at all.” Wildlife including big cats tend to follow the river through the area, he said, which provides lots of cover along with attractive food, from deer to mice. “They'll eat house cats, they'll eat raccoons, they'll eat anything they can get their teeth into,” he said. Best case, he said, the big cat's already left town on its own, “because once they get a taste for hanging around town and they're finding food sources here, chances are it cannot be relocated.”
The mountain lion that was killed by authorities in rural Boise County last night attacked a 10-year-old boy, who escaped with minor scratches, the Associated Press reports. The youngster and his dad were looking for their missing dog near their home about 15 to 20 miles northeast of Boise when he came upon the cougar - which had killed the dog. The boy ran, but stumbled and fell. That's then the mountain lion took a swipe, scratching the boy's arm and hand, before the dad fired into the air and scared the big cat away. Officers tracked down and shot the mountain lion late Thursday; you can read a full report here, and click below to read the Idaho Fish & Game news release, which notes that this is only the second-ever incident of a mountain lion attack causing injuries to a human in Idaho.
Idaho Fish & Game officials will be releasing more information shortly about an incident last night in which a mountain lion was killed after causing minor injuries to a child near a Mores Creek subdivision; it was the latest in a series of wildlife incidents, including one in which a mountain lion was shot by authorities in Boise near St. Alphonsus Hospital earlier this month, after being spotted around town for several weeks.
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) — Two Gimlet residents told state wildlife officials they arrived home last week to find a mountain lion in their house. Department of Fish and Game conservation officer Lee Garwood says he was called to the house on Sept. 3, but did not see the cougar. The Idaho Mountain Express reports a woman and her son arrived home to see the cougar standing by a set of open French doors. Garwood says he believes the cougar entered through the doors. The cougar turned and left when it saw the residents. Garwood said since the cat reacted as it should have, they will not try to trap it. Garwood advised people living in areas where mountain lions have been spotted to keep ground-level doors closed.