What should you do if you encounter a mountain lion? You might be surprised by some of the cautionary tips from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Take them to heart if you visit Pocatello. Apparently, there have been several reports of mountain lions in the area over the past few weeks, including two reports just this past weekend.

Fish and Game says the alleged weekend sightings were in the vicinity of Red Hill Trail behind Mountain View Cemetery.  The department investigated the sightings, with help from local police and Idaho State University safety officers, but says it could not confirm the sightings.

That doesn’t mean big cats didn’t visit the area. Several other reports of mountain lions also were recently reported in Pocatello, including one that was captured on May 11 near the ISU campus.

Jennifer Jackson, regional conservation educator for the department’s southeast region, said it’s unusual to have so many mountain lion reports this time of year.

“Though mountain lion sightings in and around Pocatello do happen throughout the year,” she said, “especially during winter when more deer are down low, we don’t have an explanation for why we are getting so many reports this particular spring.”

The reports of sightings bring awareness that when outdoors in Idaho, people should be cautious and know what to do – and what not to do – if they ever were to encounter a large cat. Fish and Game cautions, for instance, that if you encounter a mountain lion: “Do not run.”

Other things to remember include:

  • If you are with children, pick them up without bending over.
  • Do not turn your back on the lion, crouch down, or try to hide.
  • 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 others.
  • Shout, wave your arms, and throw objects if the lion does not leave the area.
  • Carry bear spray.  If the mountain lion charges, use it!
  • Fight back if a mountain lion attacks. Stay on your feet and use sticks, rocks, backpack, hands to fight back.
  • Never approach a mountain lion or offer it food.