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Multiple reports of 2 sub-adult mountain lions frequenting Ketchum neighborhoods


KETCHUM, Idaho (KIFI) - Residents in Ketchum are reporting two mountain lions frequenting their yards or seeing them on their security cameras. From video observations, biologists are calling them sub-adults, approximately 1.5 to 2 years of age and suspect they are siblings. Most of these reports are from west and north Ketchum. 

The lions have been seen both at night and during daylight hours.

A mountain lion walks near the front door of Ketchum residence in February 2024
A mountain lion walks near the front door of a Ketchum residence.

There have been no reports of attacks on pets.

Since Jan. 1, 2024, the Magic Valley Region has received at least 17 calls about mountain lions in the valley, most from Ketchum and Hailey residents.

Conservation officers can only respond and investigate reports of mountain lions in and around Wood River Valley communities and neighborhoods if reports are made by residents. It is crucial that residents continue to report mountain lion sightings, as well as any encounters or missing pets, to the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359 so that officers can continue to monitor the behavior of the lions and assess potential risks to public safety. 

Public safety is the number one concern

Fish and Game will always consider public safety as our number one priority when conflicts occur that involve people and wildlife.

When living close to wildlife, no matter what the species, residents and visitors need to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings to reduce the potential of an encounter or attack.

Mule deer, elk and other wildlife are common throughout the Wood River Valley, even in neighborhoods. Most people like to see deer, elk and other wildlife. However, big game living where we live can bring unintended consequences when they are found within our communities since they can also attract predators, like mountain lions, since deer and elk are the natural prey for mountain lions.

A mountain lion daybeds near a home in Ketchum in the winter of 2020.

Personal safety

Wildlife managers agree that if a person is near 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 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 bright flashlight.
  • If you are attacked, fight back!

Remember to use all your senses to detect if a mountain lion is nearby. Using a light to help you see your surroundings is very important, both in your yard, and as you walk in your neighborhood. If you run or bike for personal fitness, use caution when wearing headphones which take away your ability to hear if a lion, or any other wildlife, that could be giving you signals that you’re too close.

A mountain lion pauses in front of a house in Ketchum in February 2024
A mountain lion pauses in the driveway of a home in Ketchum.

Pet safety

Mountain lions are opportunistic predators, meaning they don’t know when their next meal will happen, and will often attempt to take prey when it presents itself. A lion may perceive a pet as prey. To keep pets safe, 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 see them.
  • Do not feed your pet outside or leave their food dishes outside. The mountain lion will not typically be attracted by pet food, but the food could attract other wildlife that could be looked at as prey by a lion.
  • Before letting your pet outside, turn on the lights, make noise and look to ensure the yard is clear of wildlife. Do not assume that a privacy fence will exclude a mountain lion from your yard.
  • Accompany your pet outside if possible.

Homeowner safety

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 near your house.
  • Do not feed wildlife! Elk and deer are the preferred prey for mountain lions. Un-naturally feeding elk and deer can attract predators to the feed site.
  • Strongly encourage your neighbors not to feed elk and deer. To effectively keep predators out of neighborhoods everyone must do their part.
  • Do not leave your household garbage outside and unsecure. As with pet food, the garbage will not typically attract a mountain lion, but it might attract other wildlife that would be considered prey by a lion.
  • Ensure that a lion cannot get under your patio or deck. These spaces can be a perfect location for a daybed.
  • Place covers over window-wells which can also be a place for a lion to use as a daybed.
  • Install motion-sensor lights which may discourage wildlife from staying in your yard. Lights can be directed to minimize impact on your neighbors.

Reporting mountain lion sightings and encounters

Wood River Valley residents and visitors should immediately report any encounter that results in an attack by calling 9-1-1. 

Mountain lion sightings and observations should be reported to the Fish and Game, Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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