BOISE -- Police and Idaho Fish and Game officials are actively looking for a mountain lion that officers saw running by WinCo Foods off Front Street around 4:40 a.m. Monday.
Boise State University officials posted a note on the school website and sent out two separate messages on the Bronco Alert system (which includes phone calls, emails, text messages) warning students to be on the lookout for the mountain lion Monday morning as someone else reported seeing it run east on the Greenbelt near the Friendship Bridge that connects the park with campus around 6 a.m.
Fish and Game officials suspect this is the same mountain lion seen Friday night in the Warm Springs Mesa area feasting on a deer carcass in the front yard of a home.
Fish and Game officials were not able to find the lion that night but did find fresh tracks in the area.
Wildlife officials and Boise police have been searching the area around the Greenbelt for clues Monday morning but have not been able to find the cat.
Officials are asking those people who do see the mountain lion to pay close attention to where -- and mark that area with rocks or branches or something like that -- or find a landmark close by so officials know where to look. Fish and Game investigators are also asking those people who call in sightings to police to leave good contact info so officials can reach them if they have more questions.
Here is how to recognize a mountain lion.
-- Big tails. The tail of a mountain lion can be up to 3 feet long and is usually about half as long as the body. The tails almost always have a black tip.
-- Color and size. Most mountain lions are a tawny color (a yellowish brown), weigh between 75 to 110 pounds and are about 2 feet high at the shoulder.
-- Tracks. Mountain lions have retractable claws, similar to domestic cats. So mountain lion tracks do not have claw marks. If you see big paw prints with claw marks, those are almost always from a dog.
It's relatively common for a mountain lion to follow a body of water like the Boise River or an irrigation canal and find itself on the outskirts of town.
What's unusual -- and dangerous, especially for small animals and children -- is for cougars to wander into city neighborhoods and stick around.
Officials say the best thing to do for people who live in the area is to keep pets inside and don't allow children to play alone in brushy common areas for the next couple of days.
Wildlife managers shot and killed a a 60-to-70-pound juvenile male mountain lion in the parking lot of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center last September. That lion had been seen by the BSU?campus, Julia Davis Park, and other areas around the Boise River for weeks prior to the shooting.
Fish and Game officials shot and killed mountain lions in the Warm Springs Avenue area in 2004 and 2006, and a police officer killed a mountain lion in the backyard of an East Boise home in 2008.
The danger is when mountain lions become "habituated"?to an urban environment and lose their fear of people, Fish and Game officials say.
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