Wildlife officials relocate Mountain Lion near Hoback Junction
An adult female mountain lion peers out from under a pickup truck at a residence near Hoback Junction earlier this week. Photo by Mark Gocke, WGFD.
Carrying the lion
Wyoming Game and Fish biologist, Doug Brimeyer and Craighead
Beringia South researcher, Howard Quigley carry a tranquilized female
mountain from a garage near Hoback Junction, as Game and Fish employee,
Dave Hyde, looks on. Photos by Mark Gocke, WGFD
Examining the lion
Lion researcher, Howard Quigley and WY Game and Fish employee, Dave Hyde, examine a female mountain lion that was relocated from a residence near Hoback Junction earlier this week. Photo by Mark Gocke, WGFD.
by Wyoming Game & Fish Department
February 9, 2008
Wildlife officials captured and relocated a female mountain lion from a garage at a residence near Hoback Junction earlier this week. Wyoming Game and Fish received the call from a resident who reported the lion hiding under their pickup truck in the garage.
Game and Fish officials responded to the call and realized the cat had a radio-telemetry collar on it and was likely part of a mountain lion research project being conducted in the Jackson Hole area by Craighead Beringia South.
Initial attempts to haze the animal away were unsuccessful and it was decided to tranquilize the animal and relocate it away from development.
With the tranquilized cat in hand, Craighead Beringia South researcher, Howard Quigley, identified the cat as F23, having been captured in November of 2006 near Alkali Creek in the Gros Ventre drainage. “We don’t know exactly how old she is, but would estimate her to be about 8-10 years old,” said Quigley.
The researchers hadn’t heard the cat’s radio signal in recent weeks. “The last location we had gotten on her was in December near the confluence of Crystal Creek and the Gros Ventre River.”
This is approximately 20 air miles away and on the opposite side of the high peaks of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range.
”This cat seemed to have a well-defined home range in the Crystal Creek drainage,” said Quigley. “We’re not sure why she would make such a drastic move, let alone end up in a garage.”
Wildlife officials note that it could be related to the fairly severe winter conditions occurring across much of the West this year. “With the increased snow pack this winter, we’re seeing more wildlife at lower elevations and in developed areas,” said Doug Brimeyer, Jackson wildlife biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
“With more deer and elk at lower elevations, it’s only logical that predators such as lions would follow them down.” This is the second mountain lion to take up temporary residence near a home in a few weeks. The other was at a private in-holding within Grand Teton National Park near Moran.
Wildlife officials are reminding people to avoid feeding wildlife. “There are a lot of reasons not to feed wildlife,” said Brimeyer. “Often what people feed them is not suitable for their digestive systems and it usually attracts the animals into conflict situations such as fences, pets, traffic and so on.”
While it is quite rare to encounter a mountain lion, officials recommend always giving the animal an escape route, putting distance between you and the animal and making noise to scare it away. It is even more rare that a person would be attacked by a lion, but it is always recommended that people fight back during a lion attack. History has shown that even children have been able to successfully deter an attacking lion.
The tranquilized mountain lion was relocated away from development in the Salt River Range southeast of Afton. It was collectively decided between the researcher and Game and Fish to release the lion in this location as some female lions had been legally harvested from this area and it was believed there could be an open home range available there. Male mountain lions are territorial, sometimes killing other intruding lions, and even female mountain lions show limited tolerance of neighboring lions. Open territories, such as those left by legal take, make it more likely translocated individuals might settle where they are released.
Photos by Mark Gocke, WGFD