POCATELLO — When Jeremy Pitcher stepped out into his backyard on Mountain Drive to take a smoke on Saturday afternoon, he didn’t expect to see a large mountain lion perched in a tree.
At first he wasn’t sure what the large object in the tree actually was because he wasn’t wearing his glasses.
“I went back in and put in my contacts,” Pitcher said. “When I looked out again I could see it was a mountain lion.”
Pitcher has lived in a duplex on Mountain Drive on Pocatello’s West Bench for four years and has never seen a big cat in the neighborhood before. He said his children frequently play in the backyard.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” Pitcher said about the cougar in the tree. “Needless to say, I didn’t let the kids go outside to play.”
Pitcher notified his next door neighbors and they called the Pocatello Police Department, which in turn called the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Fish and Game officials were called to the scene about 5 p.m., where they found the animal in a giant cottonwood tree. Luckily, the male cougar, which weighed between 110 and 120 pounds, did not put up a fight.
“The mountain lion was super calm,” said Merritt Horsmon, senior conservation officer with Idaho Fish and Game. “It was just laying there watching everything.”
Wildlife officials immobilized the animal using tranquilizers, lowered it out of the tree and successfully relocated it to an undisclosed area about 40 miles away.
Horsmon said this is the sixth mountain lion call his office has responded to this year. In January, three orphaned mountain lion cubs were found northwest of Preston near the town of Thatcher. Though one of the cubs eventually died, the other two were successfully transported to a zoo in North Carolina.
Fish and Game has also been called to one cougar report in Soda Springs and another in the Johnny Creek area in Pocatello.
Horsmon said homeowners who spot potentially dangerous wildlife that are close to their residences should contact Fish and Game immediately. Once authorities are notified, he said to stay in the house and keep an eye on the animal through a window until officials arrive.