Fish and Game kills two mountain lions near Idaho neighborhood, citing public safety


The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has trapped and killed two mountain lions that officials said had become habituated to living in Hailey, posing a public safety threat.

In a news release last week, Fish and Game said a female mountain lion and her offspring were frequenting a home in eastern Hailey. Officials said the three animals were “consistently moving around the home,” and a resident had left the home one day to find the adult lion feeding on a deer kill in the front yard.

Fish and Game said the lion acted aggressively toward the woman, who went back inside the home. The agency clarified in a news release Tuesday morning that the adult lion had hissed and bared its teeth at the woman.

The agency set live traps near the home on March 16 and captured one of the young mountain lions the next day. According to officials, they “began to seek potential sites that would accept young lions, such as an accredited zoo,” but did not find a place that would accept the animal.


Fish and Game killed the young lion on March 17. Terry Thompson, spokesperson for Fish and Game’s Magic Valley region, told the Idaho Statesman in a phone interview that it wasn’t clear how old the animal was. He described it as a juvenile.

“These were not tiny kittens by any means,” Thompson said.

The live traps remained in place, and the adult female mountain lion was trapped last Tuesday. She was killed the following day.

“These are never easy decisions on our part,” said Thompson, adding that killing animals is “counter intuitive” to why most Fish and Game employees pursue wildlife management careers.

Officials said the traps have since been removed, though a second young mountain lion has not been captured. The agency said trail camera footage has not shown the mountain lion in the area in recent days.

According to the earlier news release, the agency doesn’t typically catch and release the predators. Officials said predators tend to return to the area they were relocated from or may be killed in territorial disputes with other predators at the site where they’re relocated.

Mountain lion habituation an ongoing issue near Hailey

Officials said the Magic Valley Fish and Game region has received 85 calls about mountain lions since Oct. 1 of last year, as well as reports of non-fatal lion attacks on pet dogs. According to the agency, its conservation officers have worked with residents to block off areas where lions might bed down near homes. Officers have also hazed mountain lions with rubber bullets, buckshot, aerial crackers and pepper balls.

Fish and Game said conservation officers “have also been extremely busy removing numerous lion-killed deer and elk from neighborhood yards to reduce the chances of a surprise encounter with a lion protecting its food source.”

For the last several years, the Wood River Valley has had conflicts between mountain lions and humans, particularly in winter when the lions’ prey move into populated areas.

“People in Hailey are starting to get fatigued by the number of lions in town,” Thompson said.

Fish and Game told the Idaho Statesman in late 2019 that it had seen an unprecedented spike in mountain lion sightings and attacks. Officials at the time theorized that robust mountain lion populations and residential sprawl likely contributed to the increase in conflicts, which included numerous fatal attacks on pets.

Fish and Game said the winter of 2019-2020 was the last time officers killed a mountain lion in the Wood River Valley over human conflicts. One lion was killed in January 2020, one in December 2019 and a third in January 2019.