By BOB SACAMANO
Excess Staff Writer
Sun Valley Mayor Wayne Willich is once again raising the alarm about wildlife in the Wood River Valley, this time voicing his concern over a recent cougar attack at the Casino Club in Ketchum.
At a special City Council meeting last Thursday, Willich said he became aware of the problem while eating lunch at Perry's last Sunday, when he overheard a young man describing an unfortunate encounter with a cougar from the previous night.
Willich said that in order to record the details, he quickly interrupted the young man, who turned out to be 22-year lift mechanic Chester "Chip" Stanfield, a Connecticut native and recent graduate from Middlebury College.
An interview with Stanfield on Monday revealed that he was still so shaken up from Saturday's incident that he had yet to change out of his hooded sweatshirt, which emanated the strong odor of Marlboro cigarettes and was adorned with a large stain from a spilled Jägermeister shot.
"Yeah, that cougar totally came out of nowhere right after I did that body shot of Wild Turkey," Stanfield said, his voice still raspy days after the incident.
Willich, initially concerned that the man was unlawfully shooting at turkeys within city limits, quickly forgot about any potential illegalities when Stanfield described how the predator began its attack by running its paws through his blond-highlighted hair.
"This young man was very lucky to, somewhat inexplicably, come away from the attack unscathed," Willich said to the council while brandishing his recently purchased 1911 Colt .45 pistol. "His security was clearly violated."
Stanfield, who declined to attend the meeting due to a scheduling conflict with an event known as "Beirut," immediately identified his attacker as an older female, despite having slept through his entire freshman-year zoology class.
"Oh yeah, that animal was all over me. I mean, I've had close encounters with heavier ones before, but this was the first time I let myself be taken down by one as old as my mother," Stanfield said.
Willich expressed his surprise at the life span of the cougar and said that such an experienced predator posed an even greater threat to his city than he previously considered.
Stanfield was last seen by his friends at approximately 2:15 a.m. driving down Ketchum's Main Street in a Porsche Cayenne with a vanity plate that read "DVRCD."
The owner of the car, Sally Whitmore, or "Sal Gal" to her neighbors in Elkhorn, declined to comment when asked about the incident on Monday, but did offer to discuss the matter further over martinis at the Cavallino Lounge next Saturday night. When informed that the upscale Ketchum bar had been closed since last fall, Whitmore said she would hold a press conference in her hot tub later that evening.
Willich said he has scheduled a meeting with representatives of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and will use the attack as further proof that Sun Valley remains unsafe for children, small pets, luxury sedans and anyone on the seventh green of the Elkhorn Golf Course. As per Sun Valley protocol, the Fish and Game biologists will not be allowed to respond.
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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.