BOISE COUNTY -- A mountain lion is dead, along with a hunting dog, and a local boy is scratched up, after a rare encounter.
It all started at about 8:00pm Thursday night. A 10-year-old boy and his father, who live off highway 21 near a Mores Creek subdivision, went looking for their dog that had been missing since the night before.
But the 10-year-old boy found something else.
"He went through the sagebrush, and came face-to-face with this mountain lion," said Matt O'Connell, with the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
The boy turned and ran.
"It was a surprise encounter, I think, for both of them," said O'Connell. "When the child ran, it kind of triggered the response of the lion, that perhaps this was a prey item."
The boy tripped, fell, and turned to find the lion right next to him.
"The lion reached out a paw, and actually did scratch him in the hand and the forearm," said O'Connell.
The lion was distracted by another dog, and scared off, when the boy's father shot at him. Fish and Game Officers and a Boise County Deputy soon arrived, and tracked the lion to its kill, the family's dog. When seeing that, and knowing of the encounter with the boy, the lion was shot dead. Officers stress how rare this type of encounter is.
"This is the 2nd injury caused by a cougar in the history, that we're aware of, in the state of Idaho," said Steve Nadeau, also with the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
Officers also say that humans and lions can coexist, in wilderness areas.
"Mountain lions are very secretive animals," said O'Connell. "Many times, people don't even know they're around. Because, they grow up with mom training them how to kill deer and elk, and that' what we would like them to do for a living. When they tend to get into trouble, is when they do wander in to town."
"We've had some coyotes near the house, and we hear them quite frequently, but we see them once-in-awhile," said Jim Jozwik, who lives near where the attacked happened. "We had one cat that disappeared. We believe that it was probably coyotes that got the cat."
Jozwik says he's never seen a mountain lion in the area, but he's also not taking any chances with his young dogs.
"We don't leave them out at night," says Jozwik.
Officers advise people living near the wilderness to keep track of their pets, like Jim, and not leave food out to attract scavengers and predators.
They also say the boy's injuries were very minor, requiring just some band-aids and TLC from his mom.
The mountain lion will now be examined to find if there were any reasons for the attack, besides, like officers believe, that it was protecting its kill.