by Andrew Crisp
Idaho Fish and Game officials believe the female mountain lion Boise Police shot and killed near Bronco Stadium on the Boise State campus early this morning is the same cat that killed a deer near a home by Warm Springs Boulevard Friday.
"It matches the size and description," said Matt O'Connell, senior conservation officer with Idaho Fish and Game.
On Monday, citizens reported spotting a mountain lion near the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Myrtle Street, and on Friendship Bridge connecting the university campus with Julia Davis Park. Boise State staff then spotted the cat in a dumpster near the Student Union Building, at which time they called Boise Police.
"It happened pretty quickly," said O'Connell. "The cat had crossed the line from normal cat behavior. [Boise Police] were acting on our behalf; we had given them the OK to put down the cat."
O'Connell said that the department would "rather be saving animals than putting them down," but using a tranquilizer was not an option because of the risk involved. Boise Police don't carry the materials necessary to tranquilize an animal, and could not wait for a IDFG officer to respond.
O'Connell added that tranquilizers are a risky option even when administered by those with training. What's more, he said, mountain lions don't respond well to reintroduction to the wild after they are taken in by officials.
Even so, O'Connell said killing the cat was not the department's first choice.
"We had hoped to use obverse conditioning in the form of rubber bullets and rubber shotgun pellets," he said. "We were really hopeful we could shoot at it with those pellets and scare it out of town."
However, the animal never returned to the deer carcass.
O'Connell said the young cat could have been moving into town in an attempt to establish new territory, and that if the lion is the same animal reported earlier this week, it was exhibiting unusual behavior.
This afternoon, O'Connell stood before the body of the approximately 2-year-old female cat, which lay on a blue tarp on the grass behind the IDFG headquarters. He said that the cat had yet to reach full maturity, with most adult females reaching 100 to 140 pounds.
"A mature cat is quite a bit bigger than that," he said. "If mom gets pregnant again, she'll kick out the cats that have been with her for a while."
The body of the cat will now go to a the Idaho State Wildlife Laboratory in Caldwell for a full necropsy to determine if the animal had any medical issues.