Weekend brings more cougar sightings

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Three more cougar sightings were reported over the weekend, bringing to seven the number of times the wild cat has been seen along the river since Wednesday.

On Saturday, the mountain lion was seen in Garden City and Eagle.

On Sunday, it was spotted again in Eagle.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says the biggest risk is to people's dogs and cats, upon which mountain lions are known to prey in populated areas.

Still, the news that a mountain lion is roaming along the river from Eagle to Boise has some people re-thinking their outdoor activities on the Green Belt.

"When I heard about it last week, I didn't want to go for a walk with my dog and daughter," said Jennifer Caprile of Boise. "I was pretty scared."

The sightings also dashed hopes by Fish and Game officials that the cougar might have gone back into the hills. They say the continued presence of the cat is fast becoming a public safety issue.

Fish and Game spokesman Evin Oneale says the chemicals involved in tranquilizing animals are too dangerous to use in an urban setting.

Last May, Boise Police had to shoot and kill a cougar near Boise State University. Tracking the animal is also difficult in dry conditions, Oneale said, because hounds need a "wet" scent.

On Monday, the Boise Police Department sent out a press release with information about what to do if you encounter a mountain lion.

-Do not approach the animal. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape. Stay calm and speak loudly and firmly.

-Do not run from a mountain lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase.

-Stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. Appear larger by raising your arms or opening your jacket if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly. The idea is to convince the lion that you are not easy prey and that you may be a danger to it.

-Maintain eye contact and slowly back away toward a building, vehicle, or busy area. Protect small children so they won't panic and run.

-Fight back if attacked. Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, their bare hands, and even mountain bikes. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the animal.