Garden City officials track, kill mountain lion

The cougar shot was not the same animal as the one spotted in the Foothills recently.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comFebruary 8, 2014 

Idaho Fish and Game veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew (left) and Fish and Game conservation officer Bill London with the mountain lion killed Feb. 6 near Riverside Village in Garden City.

IDAHO FISH AND GAME

  • IF YOU ENCOUNTER A COUGAR

    - Do not run. Running might trigger the animal’s chase instinct. Move slowly; try to back away.

    - Shout in a loud, firm voice. Wave your arms or hold your coat open. Make yourself look as large and threatening as possible.

    - Maintain eye contact. Do not crouch down, and do not turn your back to the lion.

  • TUESDAY CLASS: RECREATE SAFELY IN THE WILD

    Hike Safe: How to recreate safely in bear, lion and wolf country

    Idaho Fish and Game biologist Jennifer Struthers will explain safety tips and discuss precautions to take when hiking and camping in areas with large predators; how to identify predator signs to avoid encounters; and what to do if you encounter a large predator.

    The free lecture will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

    The visitor center entrance is at Roosevelt and Indiana avenues in Nampa.

    For information, call 467-9278 or visit fws.gov/deerflat.

    If you encounter a mountain lion ...

    In addition to the front-page tips:

    - Throw sticks or rocks at the lion.

    - Pick up or restrain small children and pets to keep them from panicking and running.

    - If a lion attacks, fight back.

    - A walking stick can be a useful defense. Pepper spray used for bear attacks will also deter mountain lions.

    To avoid a lion...

    - Don’t feed wildlife such as deer, raccoons, squirrels or coyotes in your yard. These animals are prey for mountain lions.

    - When walking or hiking, keep children and pets close. Do not allow them to run ahead or lag behind on the trail.

    - Hiking or running alone is not recommended.

    More about mountain lions

    - Also called cougars, pumas or panthers, they are found throughout the West.

    - Tawny with black-tipped ears and tail.

    - Reclusive and shy, they are the largest of North American cats in the wild.

    - Adult males weigh 130-150 pounds and can reach 8 feet and longer from their nose to the end of their tail; females generally weigh 65 to 90 pounds and can be 7 feet long.

    - Mostly active at dawn and dusk, and at night when they hunt for food. Sometimes they follow prey into towns, especially during the fall and winter. Young lions that have moved out of their mother’s territory are sometimes forced into towns by larger, older mountain lions.

    Sources: National Park Service, Idaho Fish and Game

For the third time in the past few weeks, a mountain lion was reported in the Boise area.

This time, there was no escape.

A cat was spotted coming out from under a porch in Riverside Village about 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

The homeowner alerted Garden City police, who came out with Idaho Fish and Game authorities and a volunteer houndsman. They tracked the animal through backyards and common areas located near the Boise River and Glenwood Street.

About 5:30 p.m., the lion was tracked to an island in the Boise River, where it ran along a Greenbelt path. When it reached the head of the island, it was just a few feet from going back into the neighborhood, Fish and Game officials said. That’s when police officers shot and killed the cougar.

“Our hope was that the lion would tree and we could keep it there until it could be darted and possibly relocated to another area,” said Fish and Game conservation officer Bill London. “But we gave Garden City the green light to shoot the cat if it failed to tree. Darkness was upon us, and we did not want it roaming the neighborhood.”

The adult female mountain lion was 7 feet long and weighed 90 to 100 pounds. Officials estimated that she was 5 to 6 years old.

She was in good health and not lactating, meaning she did not have kittens, officials said.

The investigating officers found older tracks, indicating that the lion had been in the neighborhood for at least several days. A necropsy of the carcass was planned for Friday, with results available later.

Officials say the cat did not match the description or the behavior of mountain lions recently reported in the Foothills.

On Jan. 27, two dogs accompanying a mountain biker were attacked by a mountain lion off Bogus Basin Road. The following day, a jogger with a dog encountered a cougar in the Avimor Subdivision off Idaho 55 northeast of Eagle. Both those cats disappeared.

The first cat appeared underfed, the cyclist said.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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