20-01-15 lion hazing@ WF.jpg

A large male mountain lion had created a comfortable day bed for itself close to an elk calf carcass in southeastern Ketchum.

Actions by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game last week to condition a mountain lion to stay away from people appear to have been successful. A department spokesman said Tuesday that there have been no reported sightings since Friday of the lion, which had been bedding down near an elk carcass in southeast Ketchum.

The department received reports Wednesday of a mountain lion lying near the backyard of a home. After receiving another call from the homeowner Thursday morning that the lion was still there, officers went there and decided to use nonlethal means to force it to move. The officers used shotguns with rubber slugs and rubber buckshot.

“We hope that by using nonlethal methods we can move these urban mountain lions out into the mountains surrounding the Wood River Valley,” Regional Conservation Officer Josh Royse said in a news release last week. “We want the lions to associate a negative and somewhat painful interaction if they choose to stay within our local communities among people and pets.”

Department spokesman Terry Thompson said in an interview that the large male lion was seen back in the yard on Friday morning. Thompson said that at about 10 a.m., officers again used the rubber ammunition to force the lion to move away. The lion immediately ran from the area. Thompson said officers also found a partly consumed elk calf carcass, which they removed.

“Our hazing efforts seem to be working with that one,” Thompson said Tuesday. “Obviously, we don’t know where it went.”

The actions followed five incidents of mountain lions’ attacking dogs, three fatally, and one fatal attack of a pet cat in the valley over the past month.

“We are concerned with what appears to be increasing situations of lions becoming less fearful of humans,” Royse said.

Residents are encouraged to report any sightings of mountain lions to the Magic Valley Regional Office at 208-324-4359, during normal business hours on Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Any incidents in which a person had to take action to cause the lion to flee or back down, or any attacks by mountain lions on pets or people should be reported immediately to the Magic Valley Regional Office or the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office by calling 911 or its nonemergency phone line at 208-788-5555.

Email the writer: gmoore@mtexpress.com

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