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Black bears, mountain lions spotted on trails in the Wood River Valley

Idaho Fish and Game is warning the public to be on the lookout for wildlife when out hiking.
Credit: IDFG
Mountain lion sightings continue to be reported in the Wood River Valley.

KETCHUM, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is urging residents and visitors to the Wood River Valley to be on the alert after recent reports of black bears and mountain lions along trails.

Officials say wildlife sightings are being more common, which requires people to be more aware of their surrounding to avoid an unwanted encounter.

They say no matter the season, wildlife lives nearby. So far, there have been no negative interactions with wildlife.

Wildlife such as black bears or mountain lions can be encountered at any time when using trails or camping throughout south-central Idaho.

Hikers have reported seeing a non-aggressive black bear several times in recent weeks on the Adams Gulch Trail north of Ketchum. While this bear is reported to be non-aggressive, black bears can be unpredictable and should never be approached.

Credit: IDFG
Black bears are common throughout south-central Idaho.

Fish and Game says when hiking or recreating in bear habitat, the best thing to do is make enough noise to not surprise a bear. Black bears are typically very shy and secretive and will attempt to leave the area well before a person gets too close.

If you encounter a black bear on a trail, stay calm and don't run. Bears are extremely fast runners and can quickly overtake a person trying to run away. Make sure the bear sees you. Often bears will stand up to get a better view, which is typically not an aggressive posture but rather one of curiosity.

Hikers should:

  • Make as much noise as possible while slowing backing away.
  • Always keep your eyes on the bear.
  • Make yourself look as large as possible.
  • Never drop a backpack – especially if it has food in it. Never give a bear a food reward by allowing it to get a meal from a dropped backpack.
  • Bears can easily climb trees so don't try to escape from a bear by climbing a tree.
  • Allow the bear plenty of room to move away by providing them an escape route.
  • Carry bear spray and have it readily available. Do not carry it in your backpack.
  • If a sow with cubs is encountered, do not get between the sow and her cubs. The odds of an attack become much more likely if the sow perceives a person as a threat to her cubs.
  • If you are attacked by a black bear, Do not play dead. Fight back using any object available. Concentrate your kicks and blows on the bear's face and muzzle.

On Sunday July 5, Fish and Game says a mountain lion was seen near the dog parks along Warm Springs Creek. The lion left the area a short time after being seen.

Mountain lion sightings during the day is not typical, but there have been numerous sightings of them over the past couple of months. 

  • Residents are encouraged to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings when walking on area trails. 
  • Keep dogs on leash at all times. Unleashed pets can be viewed as prey if they were to run towards, or away from a mountain lion.
  • If you encounter a mountain lion, don't run away, since it could trigger the chase-and-catch instincts of a lion.
  • Never turn your back to a mountain lion. Always face them while making yourself look as large as you can. Yell loudly, but don't scream since a scream may mimic the sound of a wounded or injured animal.
  • Slowly back away while maintaining eye contact with the lion.
  • Carrying safety equipment is always appropriate such as bear spray, a noise device, and if you walk when it's dark, carry a very bright flashlight.
  • If you are attacked, fight back!

If you spot wildlife and want to report it, contact your regional Fish and Game office. Reports can also be made to the Blaine County Sheriff at (208) 788-5555.

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