On the morning of May 13, an adult male mountain lion was dispatched by a Fish and Game Conservation Officer on the LDS church grounds near 49th S. and Stanfield Lane in Idaho Falls.
The mountain lion was reported by a resident of the area who spotted the animal walking through the neighborhood and quickly called local law enforcement. An IFPD Officer patrolling the area saw the adult lion crossing a road at about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning and was able to corner the lion in the parking lot of a nearby LDS church building before calling a Fish and Game Officer to assist.
Once on scene, the Conservation Officer observed the male lion exhibiting no fear of humans and making no attempt to flee the area, which is not typical mountain lion behavior. “Given the behavior of the mountain lion and the proximity to a highly populated area the decision was made to dispatch the animal,” explains Conservation Officer Devin Skidmore. “This was not a safe place for a lion to be, and human safety is always our number one concern."
Idaho has an abundant and sustainable mountain lion population, but when lions attack pets, come too close people, or settle in or near communities and homes, it creates a potential public safety hazard. Fish and Game officials are unwilling to take that risk and let mountain lions remain in towns or near residences.
Idaho has never had a recorded incident of a mountain lion killing a person, but two human fatalities by mountain lions occurred in Oregon and Washington in 2018, along with numerous other incidents involving mountain lions in Idaho in recent years.
More about mountain lions and what to do if you encounter one
By nature, mountain lions are shy and will make every effort to avoid contact with humans. But, if a person finds themselves in close proximity to a lion, meaning they see it, they should:
- NEVER run away from a mountain lion. The lion’s instinct is to chase and ultimately catch what they perceive as a potential prey.
- NEVER turn your back on a lion. Always face them while making yourself look as large as you can. Yell loudly, but don’t scream. A high-pitched scream may mimic the sound of a wounded animal.
- SLOWLY back away while maintaining eye contact with the lion.
- Safety equipment you may choose to carry could include bear spray, a noise device, like an air-horn, and if you walk in the dark, a very bright flashlight.
- If you are attacked, fight back!
Mountain lion sighting in residential areas should be immediately reported to your Fish and Game Office, local law enforcement or by calling 911.