18-01-31 IDFG cougar@ resized

An Idaho mountain lion hides in a tree.

An Idaho Department of Fish and Game officer shot a mountain lion near Warm Springs Road on Wednesday morning after two residents reported that their dogs had been killed.

The attacks followed an attack by a cougar on a dog in southwest Ketchum on Saturday night, in which the dog survived but lost an eye, and a fatal attack on a dog Sunday night at a home near Gimlet Road south of Ketchum.

Fish and Game spokesman Terry Thompson said the department received a call Wednesday about 7 a.m. that a lion had just killed a dog that was behind a 6-foot solid fence in a yard on Bald Mountain Road. Thompson said the caller reported that another dog that had been in the yard had not been attacked. He said the caller said the lion had been seen jumping over the fence to leave the yard.

Thompson said the dog was taken to a veterinarian, who determined that its injuries were so severe that it should be euthanized. He said a Fish and Game officer went to the vet’s office and determined by the puncture wounds that the dog had been attacked by a lion.

Thompson said the department received a second call Wednesday about a dog that had been found dead in a driveway on Short Swing Lane, almost directly across Warm Springs Road from the site of the other incident.

He said the department contacted the owner of a hound, who brought it to the site of the first attack.

“The hound in very short order found the lion across the road under a deck,” Thompson said.

He said a Fish and Game officer then shot the lion. Thompson said that was the only available solution.

He said the department’s assumption is that that was the same lion that killed the other dog nearby. However, he said there’s no way to know if it was responsible for either of the two attacks over the weekend.

Thompson said Thursday that a live-catch trap set for the lion involved in the attack near Gimlet Road had not caught anything and will be removed.

“As far as we can tell, there hasn’t been any activity around the trap,” he said.

With so many lion attacks in just a few days, as well as numerous other sightings, “people are understandably very nervous,” he said.

Thompson urged all dog owners to keep their animals on a leash, even when they are in their yard.

“A mountain lion can jump a 10-foot fence with ease, so a 6-foot fence is not an impediment to a mountain lion by any means,” he said.

He said bright lights around a house should help keep lions away, and anyone out walking at night should carry a bright flashlight, both to see if any animals are around and, if a lion is encountered, to shine into its face to scare it away.

Thompson said an increase in the local elk and deer populations is probably drawing more mountain lions to the area, and they seem to be getting bolder about being near people. He said reports of lion sightings in the middle of the day and on home patios indicate atypical behavior.

“In town itself, they seem to be getting more visible,” he said. “I think that they are showing that they are losing their fear of humans. For a cat to go inside a yard, over a fence—that’s an emboldened cat.”

He said the lion that attacked the dog Saturday night in west Ketchum was acting more normal—that it had probably been surprised by the dog when it was let out into the yard, attacked defensively, then dropped the dog and ran off as soon as the dog’s owner stepped outside and yelled at it.

“We fully anticipate that there will be more lions moving into the valley over the winter,” he said. “We have a lot of months ahead of us.”

Email the writer: gmoore@mtexpress.com

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