Issue of: May 20, 1998  

 

Mountain lions sighted in Fox Creek


By E.D. ALEXANDER
Express Staff Writer

A few local mountain lions are taking advantage of the lack of human activity on the Fox Creek area trails, closed to the public by wet and muddy conditions.

Friday, three mountain lions were sighted on Fox Creek Trail by a visiting hiker, who apparently ignored the closure.

Teal Shull, a Vail, Colo., ski coach who spends summers in the Wood River Valley, reported the sighting to Ketchum’s emergency dispatch. Dispatch notified local wildlife officers.

Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer Lee Frost inferred from reports that Shull saw an adult lion with two cubs.

The sighting is unusual, he said, but the lions don’t pose a major threat to humans that encounter them.

"You probably have a better chance of winning $150 million in PowerBall than you do having a mountain lion eat you for lunch," Frost said on Monday.

People aren’t normal prey for lions, according to the conservation officer. Frost added that this time of year groceries for the cats--mice, squirrels, deer and elk--are abundant.

"They don’t have to stalk humans to eat," he said.

In his 26 years of wildlife experience in the valley, Frost has seen only four lions in the wild.

Ninety-nine times out of 100, a cat won’t attack a human, but humans in close quarters with a lion should stand their ground, make eye contact with the lion and try to sustain the eye contact.

Turning and running could potentially instigate the predator-prey relationship, Frost warned.

Frost anticipates that once Fox Creek opens and the intense human recreational use begins, the lions will take off for more remote areas.

"Even though the prey base in Fox Creek can sustain them, my guess is that they won’t stay. The cats are moving around, they’re fairly transient, and they just don't like humans that much," Frost said.

It is a good idea to keep dogs on leashes while out on the trails, because canines tend to chase wildlife.

 

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