HAILEY, Idaho — Since the start of October 2022, Idaho Fish & Game's Magic Valley Region has received 85 calls reporting mountain lions in the Wood River Valley. IDFG said the majority of reports have come from residents in Hailey.
According to a Tuesday news release, there have been "several" non-fatal mountain lion attacks on dogs. While a majority of calls to IDFG are simply observations of the animals, concerns of the big cats residing in area neighborhoods are increasing.
With reports of mountain lions in yards and on home security cameras continuing, Idaho Fish & Game is taking action. On Tuesday, officials announced live traps have been set in Hailey to remove the animals.
In addition to providing homeowners with safety information, IDFG has also used "non-lethal hazing" in an attempt to move mountain lions out of the area. Tactics include rubber slugs and buckshot, as well as shooting aerial cracker shells and pepper balls from an air rifle.
Fish and game officers have been "extremely busy" removing deer and elk killed by mountain lions from yards. IDFG said removing the animals reduces the chance of lion encounters, as they protect their food source.
In early March, Idaho Fish & Game started receiving more mountain lion calls in east Hailey. Officers reported a female and young lion often near area homes during the day, in large trees and bedding in yards.
Another report in early March said a female and young lion were moving around a home in east Hailey. Conservation officers and the homeowners attempted to reduce the lions bedding near the home during the day.
A Hailey woman also came "face-to-face" with a mountain lion on a deer killed in her front yard in mid-March, according to Idaho Fish & Game.
"Residents have indicated that they are not comfortable knowing that the chance of an unexpected encounter with a mountain lion is ever-present around their homes," IDFG wrote Tuesday.
Fish and game said it placed three large live traps next to two homes where the mountain lions were frequenting on Thursday, March 16, with the permission of homeowners. IDFG said a young lion was trapped on Friday, March 17, but the adult female and second young lion were not trapped or seen.
"In anticipation of the trapping, Fish and Game officials began to seek potential sites that would accept young lions, such as an accredited zoo," IDFG wrote Tuesday. "On Friday morning, after the young lion was trapped, and after no suitable location could be found, the decision was made to euthanize the lion."
The decision to trap and remove the animals was made following repeated attempts to haze the lions to push them out of the east Hailey area, according to IDFG.
While trapping and removing lions seems preferable, fish and game said the method typically has negative outcomes. IDFG typically does not relocate predators, because the animals may return to the area, get killed by a dominant animal already in the relocation area in a territorial dispute, or the animal starves.
Idaho Fish and Game has not euthanized a mountain lion in the Wood River Valley since January 2020. At the time, a large male was removed from the Woodside Subdivision after it exhibited "increasing levels of aggression" during hazing attempts. The lion was also in an area where children were being released from a local grade school.
“Our Fish and Game staff, working with Wood River Valley partners has put a significant amount of energy into education and outreach about how residents and visitors can be responsible and safe when around wildlife” Magic Valley Regional Supervisor Craig White said. “As wildlife biologists, we dedicate our careers to managing healthy and robust wildlife populations, and the last thing we want to do is euthanize an animal.”
For more information on the history of mountain lions in the Wood River Valley, and how IDFG handles euthanizing an animal, click here.
Watch more Local News:
See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist:
KTVB is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.