HAILEY, Idaho (KLIX)-With recent snow fall in Idaho's central mountains more people have reported seeing mountain lions near their homes.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game recently announced reports of mountain lion sightings in the Wood River, Pine and Featherville areas increased following storms that dropped several inches of snow. Since late January people have reported sightings and encounters with the large felines as the snow pushed them into the small mountain communities. So far, according to Idaho Fish and Game, there have not been any reported attacks on people or pets. The winter of 2019-2020 Idaho Fish and Game reported three fatal attacks on dogs and several non-fatal attacks.

The recent reports of mountain lion sightings are mostly tied to deer and elk kills, the preferred meal for a lion, that the animals have cached away near homes. The cats follow the deer and elk herds to lower elevations to prey on them, according to Idaho Fish and Game. “We urge residents to notify our officers if they observe a lion or see tracks around their homes, or if they come across cached prey” stated Regional Conservation Officer Josh Royse in a prepared statement, “our goal is to make sure that people and their pets stay safe, and that predators, like mountain lions, continue their natural movements through our communities, which they will do if we do not encourage them to linger in town, or in our back yards.”

People can report a sighting by calling the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359 during business hours, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. After hours and weekend sightings can be reported to Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999

Here is list of tips provided by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game if someone encounters a mountain lion:

Personal safety

Mountain lions have been in Idaho long before human development began. We hear from residents across the region that they are seeing these secretive cats as they pass through their neighborhoods, with some seeing lions during daylight hours, which is not typical behavior.

Wildlife managers agree that if a person is 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 catch what they perceive as 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 sound like 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!

You need all of your senses to detect if wildlife is near. Using a light to help you see is very important, both in your yard, or as you walk in your neighborhood. If you run or bike for personal fitness, use caution when wearing headphones or ear buds which can take away your ability to hear if a lion, or any other wildlife, is giving you signals that you’re too close.

Pet safety

Mountain lions are opportunistic predators, and will often attempt to take prey when it presents itself. A lion may perceive a pet as prey so pet owners are strongly encouraged to follow these safety tips:

· Keep your pets on a leash.

· Watch the pets’ behavior, since they may sense the lion before you can actually see them.

· Do not feed your pet outside, or leave their food dishes outside. Lions will not typically be attracted by the pet food, but the food could attract feral cats or wildlife like raccoons or skunks that could be considered prey by a lion.

· Before letting your pet outside, turn on lights, make noise and look to ensure the yard is clear of wildlife. Do not assume that a privacy fence will keep a mountain lion out of your yard.

· Accompany your pet outside if possible.

Homeowner safety

By nature, mountain lions are shy and will make every effort to avoid contact with humans. Over the last several months it does appear there are some lions that have become accustomed to living near towns and neighborhoods. Homeowners can do several things to make it less likely that a mountain lion would pass through, or live near their homes and neighborhoods. These include:

· When leaving your house, be aware of your surroundings. Look and listen for signs of wildlife.

· Do not feed wildlife! Elk and deer are the preferred prey for mountain lions. Feeding is unnecessary and can concentrate elk and deer herds which can attract predators.

· Strongly encourage your neighbors to not feed elk and deer. To effectively keep predators out of neighborhoods everyone must do their part.

· Do not leave garbage outside and unsecured. Garbage will not typically attract a mountain lion, but it might attract other animals that would be considered prey.

· Ensure that a lion cannot crawl under your deck or into basement window wells which could be a perfect place for a daybed.

· Install motion-sensor lights which may discourage wildlife from staying in your yard. Lights can be directed to minimize light impact on your neighbors.

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