When what Blair Gregersen thought was a dog stuck in a fence jumped high into a tree, he decided it was time to call Idaho Fish & Game officers. A mountain lion was not something he wanted to tackle.
It was just after noon on July 18, and Gregersen was raking hay by hand into windrows in his field a few feet away from where the cougar had apparently sought relief from the heat in a shady and wet, but empty canal next to the park in Banida, north of Preston. When Gregersen’s German shepherd started bouncing back and forth and barking, he passed it off as the dog having found something such as a skunk.
However, soon the dog was on the other side of the fence and making enough racket that Gregersen put his pitch fork down to find out what was going on.
As he approached, the as yet unidentified animal seemed to struggle in the fence but soon launched itself over the fence and up into a tree growing near the ditch and the park.
“My first thought was to just leave him alone, but then I remembered we have a big ward party on Saturday, and we wouldn’t want to not know where he was with all those people,” Gregersen said.
While the dog kept the lion treed, officers were dispatched, and curious neighbors began gathering. An Idaho Fish and Game officer out of Idaho Falls, licensed to administer tranquilizing drugs, was dispatched to the scene.
The animal appeared to be a healthy, male sub-adult weighing about 100 pounds.
“He never growled,” said Gregersen, who added that he never felt endangered around the cat. But it was hot and panting. Local wildcat experts, Sam and Boone Smith, helped remove the tranquilized mountain lion from the tree, and deputies of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department were on scene as well. Local residents who watched the effort to capture the cat were allowed to take pictures near it once it was tranquilized.
The mountain lion was made comfortable with bags of ice in the 90 degree weather and transported to a remote place in District 5, west of Blackfoot. Fish and Game officer Nathan Stohosky said adult mountain lions have large ranges, and this animal was likely napping in the heat of the day as it passed through the area.