POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - During these nice summer days, there is nothing better than getting out and enjoying a hike, a bike ride, or a trail run in our beautiful mountains. But you need to be aware of your surroundings when it comes to wildlife.
Recently, Corey Wight came face to face with danger while mountain biking.
"I was coming down the trail that comes right down that ridge to the bridge. And I came around the corner and there was a huge mountain lion 4 to 5 feet in front of me," Wight said. "Coming up the trail as I went down and I slammed on my brakes and screamed and it pounced. Its paws on the ground and then got startled and turned around and ran down the trail."
Zach Lockyer, Regional Wildlife Manager for Idaho Fish and Game, says Corey's experience of seeing a mountain lion that close in the daylight hours is pretty rare. But he said Corey's ability to keep calm was the key.
"Seeing a mountain lion up on the hillside in a remote area might not be as unique, but a close encounter like what Corey experienced or out in broad daylight. Those sorts of things are important for us to track and might indicate that we have an animal that's not behaving normally, that we need to pay close attention to," Lockyer said.
Dry Creek Trail up Gibson Jack is one of the countless gorgeous trail systems in the Pocatello area, also home to bears, mountain lions, and moose, as well as other wildlife that could be dangerous.
Lockyer says to be prepared by carrying bear spray. And if you do have an encounter. you want to try to make yourself look as large as possible.
"You can open your jacket, put your arms in the air, remain facing and make eye contact and try to move away slowly and give that animal space to leave on its own," Lockyer said. "If the mountain lion continues to approach, folks have been effective by throwing rocks, sticks, trying to get it to run away. And in the rare event that there is an actual attack, it's important to fight back," he said.
When you encounter a mountain lion, the advice is different than if you are attacked by a bear. When it is a bear, you cover your neck and lay on your stomach, and play dead. But with a mountain lion you fight back and be aggressive, get a stick or rock, and aim for the animal's eyes. If you don't have any kind of weapon, you can hit much harder with your elbows and legs than with your fists.