ST. ANTHONY - Someone shot a mountain lion Friday morning in the Sugar-Salem/Wilford area, and the Idaho Fish and Game Department wants to know who pulled the trigger.
The lion was killed between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Friday and was left for dead. Shooting a lion is illegal out of season.
Fish and Game spokesman Gregg Losinski says there were many human foot tracks in the snow where the lion was found near a haystack. "Someone took matters into their own hands" after the lion was spotted in the farming area, he says.
The Standard Journal received a call about the mountain lion sighting just after 7 a.m. Friday. The caller said the lion was high on the cross bars of a power pole in the Wilford/Sugar City area west of the old Meyers Brothers Feed Lot.
A dog could be heard barking during the call. The man said he had called his neighbors to look at the big cat, but he said he had not yet called the Fish and Game about the sighting.
Losinski says if local Fish and Game officers had been called to the scene the cat's death may have been avoided.
While it's somewhat unusual to see a mountain lion in farmland in the upper valley, it does happen. Usually the animals pass through unseen along the riverbottoms. But when one climbs a power pole and is noticed, the novelty draws a crowd and it can spell trouble.
More than one person at the scene photographed the cat. A copy of a cat photo was printed in Saturday's Standard Journal, and album of mountain lion photos appeared on Facebook shortly after the lion was spotted.
Now the Fish and Game has possession of the cat's carcass, Losinski says. "We know what kind of gun was used to shoot it."
Fish and Game Officer Tony Inthurm is investigating the shooting. Anyone with any information about the incident should contact Inthurm or the Fish and Game office in Idaho Falls at 525-7290.
To remain anonymous and possibly receive a reward, call 1-800-632-5999, the Fish and Game's Catch a Poacher (C.A.P.) hotline.