21-03-24 mountain lions courtesy IDFG@.jpg (copy)

Hailey residents should actively discourage mountain lions from living within their neighborhoods by closing off access to “daybed” locations such as under-deck space and storage sheds, according to Fish and Game spokesman Terry Thompson.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is asking Hailey residents and pet owners to take stock of their surroundings following reports of a large mountain lion in the Old Hailey area early Tuesday morning.

The lion reportedly exhibited bold behavior and was sighted walking northeast along Silver Street toward the BCRD bike path.

Hailey resident Daryl Fauth told the Express that he and his wife saw the animal around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday while returning home from Boise. He reported the sighting to Fish and Game via its website, he said

“It was lounging in our neighbor’s yard on Third Avenue, just south of Silver Street. When I stopped to take a closer look, it casually got up and walked towards Fourth Avenue,” he said.

Fauth estimated that the lion was “75 to 125 pounds,” with shoulders “two to two and a half feet” high.

“It walked around like it owned the place. Absolutely gorgeous animal, and looked very healthy,” he said. “I’m glad I was in a truck.”

According to Fish and Game spokesman Terry Thompson, the Magic Valley office did not become aware of the situation until late Tuesday night, when officers saw posts circulating on social media. He asked that residents call the department if they see the animal.

“We take mountain lions inside communities and neighborhoods very seriously. We hope that we would be notified when situations like this are observed by local residents or by our sister [law enforcement] agencies,” he told the Express on Wednesday. “While the overwhelming majority of the calls we receive are just reports, or sightings of wildlife like mountain lions, we do use this information to keep us—Fish and Game—aware, since it is an important metric we can use when we start to get multiple calls in a short period of time, or in a concentrated area of town.”

Thompson said at the end of the day, the department’s goal is to keep residents and their pets safe and wildlife “wild, [not] accustomed to living in and around people.”

“Lions inside city limits and laying in front yards of homes just three blocks from downtown Hailey is not normal lion behavior, and residents should not think of this as normal or expected when living in the Wood River Valley,” he said. “While we are definitely not looking to cause alarm or panic … having a mountain lion roaming in a residential neighborhood does cause us pause.

“An unsuspecting resident can come outside their house to go to work, or run to the store, and immediately be face-to-face with a mountain lion, which will always be a serious concern to us.”

No mountain lion attacks on people have ever been reported in the Wood River Valley, but several pets have been injured or killed, prompting Fish and Game to euthanize five lions in the past four years.

In January 2018, Fish and Game officers killed two mountain lions: an older female in Gimlet that had attempted to kill a homeowner’s dog, and a juvenile at Friedman Memorial Airport that delayed a commercial flight by sitting on the runway. In 2019, Fish and Game officers euthanized two mountain lions in the Warm Springs area of Ketchum, one in January and one in December, after the animals attacked and killed residents’ dogs. In January 2020, officers shot a large male lion in Hailey’s Woodside subdivision due to the animal’s proximity to children. No lions were euthanized in the Wood River Valley in 2021.

Fish and Game has offered the following tips for anyone who might encounter a mountain lion.

  • Do not run.
  • If you are with children, pick them up without bending over.
  • Do not turn your back on the lion, crouch down or try to hide.
  • Remain facing the lion and slowly back away. Leave the animal an escape route.
  • Try to appear as large and confident as possible—stand on a rock or stump, hold up your arms, stand next to others.
  • Yell, but do not scream. Wave your arms and throw objects if the lion does not leave the area.
  • At night, remove headphones and use a flashlight.
  • Always fight back if a mountain lion attacks. Use bear spray if you have it. Stay on your feet and use sticks, rocks, or hands if necessary.

For more information, visit https://wrvwildlifesmart.org.

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