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Young mountain lions found under deck at Idaho home euthanized

"Lions habituated in an urban setting pose a public safety risk," an IDFG supervisor said about the decision to euthanize the three mountain lions in Kendrick.

LATAH COUNTY, Idaho — Idaho Fish and Game officers have euthanized three young mountain lions found Saturday under a deck at a home in Kendrick, in north central Idaho.

IDFG on Monday announced the officers trapped and euthanized the animals to protect the public.

"We made the decision to euthanize because lions habituated in an urban setting pose a public safety risk," IDFG Clearwater Region Supervisor JJ Teare said in a news release, which also stated mountain lions that become comfortable in populated areas also pose a challenge and a risk for those who may be asked to find and relocate them.

IDFG says one reason mountain lions may stray into towns and neighborhoods is they're often pushed out of wild areas by dominant, typically more mature, lions.

The mountain lion population around Kendrick and throughout the state of Idaho is abundant and, given that those big cats are territorial, a mountain lion released back into the wild after straying into populated areas is unlikely to fare well in another lion's territory, according to IDFG. Also, there's a risk of a mountain lion returning to areas populated by humans and injuring or killing livestock and pets.

The mountain lions found over the weekend in Kendrick were "young of the year," and were seeking shelter and food "wherever they could find it." Regional communications manager Jennifer Bruns estimated they were anywhere between four and six months of age.

IDFG says the department only resorts to "lethal removal" -- including euthanasia -- if an animal has become aggressive when living among people and is determined to be a threat to public safety.

"It's not something we like to do," Bruns said.

Mountain lion sightings and incidents occur year-round, but reports tend to increase during the winter months because of fresh snow making tracks more visible and increased numbers of deer and elk moving onto their winter ranges, which are often close to neighborhoods and towns.

IDFG asks homeowners to check around their homes and prevent mountain lions from staying there by blocking areas under decks and securing all doors to barns and backyard sheds.

If you encounter a mountain lion:

  • Do not run.
  • If you're with children, pick them up without bending over.
  • Don't turn your back on the lion, don't crouch down and don't try to hide.
  • Never approach a mountain lion or offer it food.
  • Remain facing the lion and slowly back away. Leave the animal an escape route.
  • Try to appear as large as possible -- stand on a rock or stump, hold up your arms, stand next to other people.
  • If a mountain lion does not leave the area, shout, wave your arms and throw objects.
  • If a mountain lion attacks, stay on your feet and fight back using sticks, rocks, your backpack, even your hands if necessary. Use bear spray if you have it.

For more information about dealing with mountain lions, including how to avoid attracting them to your property, contact your nearest IDFG regional office.

To report a mountain lion sighting on your property, call a regional IDFG office or your local law enforcement.

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