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Orphaned mountain lion kittens from McCall area get new home at Pennsylvania zoo

Idaho Fish and Game traps, moves mountain lion kittens

Watch part of the process Idaho Fish and Game used to move the orphaned cougars.
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Watch part of the process Idaho Fish and Game used to move the orphaned cougars.

A pair of orphaned mountain lion kittens were found last month in a barn in Meadows, near McCall. They were too small to live on their own, were fed by humans and became accustomed to humans, so Idaho Fish and Game decided they needed to go to a captive facility.

After searching for a location with room for two, the brother-sister kittens earlier this month were trapped for transport to Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, Pa. The zoo is north of Philadelphia.

Fish and Game produced a video showing how the kittens were transferred from the traps to transport crates. You can watch the video above.

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A few details from the wildlife biologists in McCall:

▪ Fish and Game told the barn owners not to drive the kittens away. The department learned of the kittens’ presence Feb. 19 and caught them March 8, once a home had been secured for them. “They were in a good place to live-trap when we were ready to get them,” Diane Evans Mack said. “If they wandered away on their own, that would have been OK, but since they didn’t, that gave us an opportunity to keep tabs on them.”

▪ It was “doubtful they would have been able to make it” on their own, Mack said. “They didn’t have Mom to teach them things anymore,” she said.

Mountain lions are common in Idaho, but are typically reclusive and often go unnoticed. Idaho Fish and Game Conservation officer Rob Howe found one sauntering toward him.

▪ Idaho Fish and Game’s stance on mountain lions is that they aren’t good candidates for rehabilitation and release into the wild.

▪ The traps that were used involved placing bait (deer meat) in the back of a crate. The kittens triggered the door to release behind them by stepping on a plate. Both kittens were caught in separate traps on the same night, which was somewhat unexpected. “Oftentimes what happens is one animal sees another animal trapped and thinks, ‘Hmm, I’m not going to try that,’ ” Mack said.

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▪ Moving the kittens from the trap to the transport crate was a little tricky because there was a gap between the two crates. “They don’t look very big — they were 18 and 22 pounds — but if they got ahold of your bare hand or something you would regret it,” Nathan Borg said. “The male was a little more docile in the trap. The female was a little more rowdy — lunging at us, hissing and snarling. It was quite the sight.”

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