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Trio of mountain lion cubs euthanized by Fish & Game after being found in backyard

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SUGAR CITY — What began as a wildlife adventure for Sugar City residents took a sad turn after Idaho Department of Fish & Game officials were forced to euthanize a trio of mountain lion cubs.

The lion cubs had snuck into several backyards in Sugar City on Black Friday, and were climbing trees and playing together.

“At about 11 a.m. in the morning (on Friday), my wife was out running a couple of errands, and right as she was pulling into our driveway, she saw a couple of these mountain lion cubs just crossing our driveway,” said Justin Maughan, a Sugar City resident.

Maughan said he and his wife were cautious because they didn’t know if there was a mother mountain lion nearby. They brought their dog inside just to be safe. Soon, the cubs were in his yard.

In a video that Maughan took and shared on Facebook, it shows two cubs playing in one of his trees.

“That was kind of unexpected that they were playing around a little bit. It was fun. I just thought it was really cool, a really neat experience just to see them that close. I have never seen anything like that and the Fish & Game officer said that this was really rare to be able to see mountain lions this close,” he said.

Maughan told EastIdahoNews.com he was aware that there were mountain lions in the area because their neighbors half a mile down the road had posted on Facebook that the three mountain lion cubs were in their yard the other day. Maughan called the Idaho Department of Fish & Game to report the mountain lions.

An Idaho Department of Fish & Game spokesman told EastIdahoNews.com the cubs were originally spotted two or three days prior to Friday.

Unfortunately, the spokesman told EastIdahoNews.com the three cubs were captured and euthanized later on Friday.

“We did a pretty thorough examination of these cubs and they were fairly emaciated. They were in really poor body condition so they were not very healthy,” James Brower explained to EastIdahoNews.com. “There’s no rehabilitation center or place that you can take them to. They would have not made it on their own. They would have starved to death. They were pretty young.”

In other videos that Maughan took, it shows the cubs in his yard and Fish & Game officers trying to catch the three cubs.

Brower told EastIdahoNews.com the three mountain lion cubs were abandoned and there was no mother to be found.

“It does happen on occasion that mountain lions come into town but usually when they do, it’s because they are in a bad situation whether they are really young or really old,” said Brower. “We don’t really get a lot of healthy mountain lions that end up in town. They are either too young to fend for themselves or they are really old and lost their teeth and ability to hunt and they are looking for an evening meal.”

It’s a sad situation that the cubs had to be euthanized in the end Brower explained, but he said it’s greatly appreciated that residents called Fish & Game out quickly.

“Definitely be aware of your surroundings and your situation and if you do see or encounter a mountain lion in town, one of the most critical things to do is call us at Fish & Game and report it as soon as you can,” he said.

In the Upper Snake region, anyone can contact Fish & Game at (208) 525-7290. Click here to find your specific region.

Brower shared some tips in case of an encounter with a mountain lion.

If a person is in close proximity to a lion, meaning they see it, they should:

  • NEVER run away from a mountain lion. The lion’s instinct is to chase and ultimately catch what they perceive as a potential prey.
  • NEVER turn your back on a lion. Always face them while making yourself look as large as you can. Yell loudly, but don’t scream. A high-pitched scream may mimic the sound of a wounded animal.
  • SLOWLY back away while maintaining eye contact with the lion.
  • Safety equipment you may choose to carry could include bear spray, a noise device, like an air-horn, and if you walk in the dark, a very bright flashlight.
  • If you are attacked, fight back!

Click here to read more safety tips when living in closer proximity to mountain lions from Idaho Fish & Game.

mountain lion
Courtesy: Justin Maughan
mountain lions 5
Courtesy: Justin Maughan
mountain lion 4
Courtesy: Justin Maughan
mountain lion 2
Courtesy: Justin Maughan
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