Nonlethal hazing used to move cougar out of Ketchum

After twice using rubber ammunition to motivate a mountain lion to move from a spot where it had cached an elk carcass in southeastern Ketchum, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is hoping that the lion will stay away from town.

According to Fish and Game, 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 media release. “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.”

However, 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. He said officers also found a partly consumed elk calf carcass, which they removed.

“We’re hopeful that it decides that it’s time to leave town and it will head to the hills,” Thompson said. “The lion was definitely more wary today than it was yesterday after being hazed.”

He said Fish and Game will have to take a more aggressive approach if the lion returns again.

Residents are encouraged to report any sightings of mountain lions to the Magic Valley Regional Office at 208-324-4359, during normal business hours of Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Any incidents where a person must 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.

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

 

Email the writer: gmoore@mtexpress.com

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