Cougar shot in Ketchum
By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer
A small male cougar was shot by a Ketchum police officer Saturday after
it reportedly threatened a dog at a home on Garnet Street.
Roger Olson, regional conservation officer for the Department of Fish
and Game, said the 65-pound cat was probably about a year old and appeared to be in very
Another, larger, cougar was shot by a homeowner in the same
neighborhood in February. A second cat was seen shortly after, but Olson said he doubted
that was the one shot Saturday since it would be bigger than 65 pounds by now.
Ketchum Police Chief Cal Nevland said his office received a phone call
at 5:37 a.m. on Saturday from the Garnet Street resident stating that the cougar appeared
threatening to the couples dog and that when they tried to scare it off it climbed a
tree. Nevland said he attempted to contact a Department of Fish and Game officer to get
advice, but couldnt reach anyone.
"I made the decision to have the officer shoot the cat,"
Nevland said. "I told him the most important things were that the shots could be
fired safely and that the animal didnt get away wounded."
Nevland said the Ketchum officer, who used a .12-gauge shotgun, was
backed up by a Sun Valley police officer while he shot the cougar.
Olson said the cat is in a freezer and will probably be sold at the
departments annual spring auction.
Olson said he is developing an area-wide protocol for what to do with
cougars who wander into towns. He said he hopes to meet with local police chiefs this week
to get their input. He said he doubts there will be any general public involvement in the
"You could debate it forever," he said. "We need to
figure out what needs to be done for the majority of people."
Olson said he expected the police chiefs to get some input on the
subject from their city leaders.
He said any action taken against problem cougars would probably require
killing them, since tranquilized cougars cannot be released for at least 30 days during
hunting season. He said he presumes that is because their flesh could be harmful to people
Olson said he received a couple of reports this week about a cougar
spotted along the Big Wood River near Deer Creek.
In what was probably the first mountain lion attack on a person in
recent Idaho history, an 11-year-old boy was reported mauled by a starving cougar on Sept.
11 while he was camped on a beach along the Salmon River upstream from Riggins. According
to the McCall Star-News, the cat tore a two-inch by one-inch gash in the boys
forehead and punctured his shoulder and back.
According to the paper, the boys father "drove the cougar
off the boy by punching it, then threw sand in its eyes when the cougar refused to back
away after releasing the boy."
The cat was killed by a hunting outfitter accompanied by Fish and Game
officers, the paper said. Fish and Game officers told the Star-News the
approximately 18-month-old cat weighed only 47 pounds, much less than the 80 to 100 pounds
expected for a cougar of that age.
Olson said he knew of no other cougar attacks on humans in Idaho.
Nevland said some local residents have become afraid to go out at night
and to let their children or pets out due to the presence of cougars.
"I think the police have a duty to relieve them of that fear if it
can be done safely," he said.
But, he added, "there isnt any doubt in my mind that
well have an attack by a mountain lion. Its just a matter of time."