Boise family's dog was attacked in its own backyard. Fish and Game suspects a bobcat

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A small dog was killed in a Boise family's East Foothills backyard last week, and the Idaho Fish and Game Department suspects the culprit is a bobcat that reportedly frequents the neighborhood.

According to district conservation officer Ben Cadwallader, the incident occurred near the Warm Springs Mesa subdivision the evening of May 14.

Cadwallader said a resident let her small dog out in her backyard in the evening. The animal didn't return, and when she went looking for it on Tuesday in the daylight, she found the dog dead in her yard. There was another animal's footprint near its body. Realizing the dog had been attacked, she called Fish and Game.

Responding officer Joey Ishida determined from the dog's wounds that it had been attacked by a cat. And judging by the size of the tracks it left behind — about 3 inches, Cadwallader said — Ishida guessed it was a bobcat.

The dog's owner confirmed that a bobcat frequents the neighborhood, Cadwallader said.

"We attempted to alert the neighborhood ... but (the residents) all know about it," Cadwallader added. "Most neighborhoods on the east edge (of Boise) have some bobcat story."

Ishida believed the dog may have tried to instigate a fight with the cat, which fought back. It was the first time Fish and Game had received any reports related to a bobcat in that neighborhood, despite residents' reports that the cat frequented the area. For those reasons, Cadwallader said, Fish and Game ultimately decided not to pursue the bobcat or try to remove it.

"Idaho is exploding with population, people-wise. So you've got to think we're going to see more of these encounters," Cadwallader said.

That's not to say bobcats are a serious threat in Boise, he added.

"I'd hate to have people think we have a problem when I don't think that we do," Cadwallader said, explaining that reports like this one often lead to an explosion in "bobcat sightings" — many of which turn out to be house cats.

The last similar incident Cadwallader could recall occurred in 2013, when a mountain lion attacked and killed several dogs in fenced backyards in east Boise.

He advised those who live on the fringes of the city to avoid letting their pets outside unattended around dawn and dusk, when predators are most active. And if you must let them out, make noise or turn on a light to help ward off wild animals.

The Boise Foothills are home to all kinds of wildlife, Cadwallader said: bears, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats and more.

"Anything you can think of is in the Foothills, but 99 percent of the time, they're not a problem," he said.