What to do if you meet a mountain lion
You can expect to see mountain lions anywhere in Idaho.
Because lions are territorial, young adults sometimes move into marginal, non-typical habitats, such as urban areas, looking for unoccupied territory.
“Most people in Idaho have never seen a mountain lion, but given the number of people who live and recreate here and the number of lions, there’s always potential for an encounter,” said Rick Cooper, senior conservation officer for Idaho Fish and Game.
Keep an eye on pets and children — particularly in the early morning and evening hours — because they can become prey for mountain lions.
Catching a glimpse of a mountain lion can be an exciting experience. Enjoy viewing them from a distance and give them adequate space. According to research, 17 human fatalities because of lions have been recorded in the past 118 years in North America. Only one injury has been recorded in Idaho in the past 20 years.
Fish and Game has these suggestions that may help avoid a confrontation.
▪ Do not run. Stay calm and keep eye contact. Move slowly and try to back away. Running away may trigger the animal’s instinct to chase.
▪ Stay upright. Do what you can to appear large by raising and waving your arms or opening your jacket. Yell in a loud, firm voice.
▪ Never turn your back on a mountain lion. Always maintain eye contact and face the lion. Convince the lion that you are not a deer, which is the lion’s chief prey.
▪ When you walk or hike in lion country, go in groups and make enough noise to avoid surprising a lion. While lions are not likely to approach humans, they are even less likely to approach a more threatening larger group.
▪ Keep children close and in sight at all times. Pick up small children if a lion is near.
▪ Never approach a mountain lion. Give it a way out.
▪ If a lion behaves aggressively, arm yourself with a large stick, rock or other object and face it. In the extreme case that a mountain lion attacks, remain standing and fight back with whatever object you have. Pepper spray is an effective deterrent.
If you encounter a mountain lion, immediately notify Idaho Fish and Game at 208-799-5010 or your local sheriff’s office. An encounter would include a lion demonstrating any unnatural behavior, such as showing no concern for the presence of people or acting aggressively toward people or pets.