A mountain lion attacked a family dog in Idaho last Thursday evening and snatched it away, as gamekeepers reported.
The family and their small dogs visited a hot spring about 17 miles east of Carey in the southern part of the state, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said in a statement.
While the family was sitting in the spring, a mountain lion “grabbed” one of the dogs and took it away. The pet was never found.
The Department warns people in the area to be “vigilant” and “alert to their surroundings,” especially in the early morning and evening hours when mountain lions are most active.
Although mountain lions usually try to avoid contact with humans, they are sometimes attracted to small pets that they may perceive as prey.
“Mountain lions are opportunistic predators, which means they don’t know when their next meal is coming, and will often try to prey when it is available,” the department said.
The department recommends keeping pets on a leash in areas where mountain lions live. It also advises pet owners to keep an eye on the behavior of their animals, as they may be the first to sense a mountain lion.
Mountain lions (Puma concolor) are a big cat type native to America, whose spread-area stretches from the Canadian Yukon-Territory as far as to the Magellan Strait in the south. In the USA, they occur mainly in 14 western states and inhabit environments such as mountains, forests, deserts and wetlands.
These big cats, which are also commonly called pumas, pumas, panthers or catamounts, vary considerably in size depending on where they are found. Mountain lions that live closer to the poles are usually larger than those that live near the equator.
But in general, males weigh between 115 and 220 pounds and females between 64 and 141 pounds, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
The tan cats are stealthy predators that like to hunt at night and usually hunt deer. But they also eat other mammals – such as coyotes, raccoons, rodents, moose, wild boar and porcupines.
Human encounters with mountain lions are rare, and the likelihood of attack is extremely low, but wildlife authorities are urging people in mountain lion country to be vigilant.
If you spot a mountain lion near you, the department recommends never running away from the animal or turning your back on it.
“Lions’ instinct is to hunt and eventually catch what they perceive as potential prey. Always face them and make yourself look as big as possible. Scream loudly, but do not scream. A high scream can mimic the sound of a wounded animal,” the agency says.
The best approach is to slowly retreat from the mountain lion while maintaining eye contact. In the rare event that you are attacked, you should defend yourself, the officials say.