KETCHUM, Idaho – An airplane approaching a central Idaho airport had to abort its initial landing after a mountain lion was spotted on the runway.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials said a conservation officer later killed the mountain lion in order to keep the public safe.
The Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey on Saturday night was delayed about 20 minutes due to the mountain lion, the Idaho Mountain Express reported.
“We were on an approach for landing and all of a sudden the pilot pulled up,” said Diane Cordes, a Hailey resident on the flight. “After a couple of minutes, he came on the loudspeaker and said the tower called and we had to pull up because there’s a cougar on the runway.”
After the mountain lion was spotted, airport manager Chris Pomeroy said workers attempted to corral the animal. The airport does have a plan in place for wildlife management, he noted.
“We thought we had it contained but it did spring loose and walk across the runway when the Delta flight was several miles out,” Pomeroy said.
Pomeroy used a car to chase the cougar into a fenced-off section surrounding the control tower, he said.
The conservation officer shot the lion as there was no way to safely trap it in a timely manner, said Kelton Hatch, a spokesman for the fish and game department. The mountain lion was less than a year old, he said.
The officer did not have access to a tranquilizer gun, and the department does not typically relocate large predators that have become accustomed to being near people, said Mike McDonald, the department’s regional wildlife manager.
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