Idaho woman who thought she was breaking up dog fight grabbed juvenile mountain lion instead

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MACKAY, Idaho - An Idaho woman thought she was breaking up a dog fight - but ended up grabbing a juvenile mountain lion.

According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the incident occurred last week on January 30 outside of a home in Mackay when the woman spotted her dog fighting with what she assumed was another pet.

"As she pulled the two animals apart, she realized that, in one hand, she held a juvenile, male mountain lion about 35 pounds and not another dog as she expected," the press release from Idaho Fish and Game said.

The woman restrained both animals and called for her husband, who was inside their home, to bring a gun. The man came outside and "quickly dispatched the mountain lion as she held on to it."

The couple immediately reported the killing to authorities, and wildlife officials responded to retrieve the carcass. Tests will be conducted to determine if disease may have played a role in the animal's behavior.

The woman and her dog suffered some scratches but did not appear to be seriously injured.

The incident is the third time a mountain lion attacked a dog in January in Idaho, the release said.

"Idaho has an abundant and sustainable mountain lion population but, when lions attack pets, come too close people and communities, it creates a potential public safety hazard," it said. "Fish and Game officials are unwilling to take that risk and let them wander freely in towns."

Wild Aware Utah provides tips for avoiding encounters with potentially dangerous wildlife as well as advice for how to respond should you encounter a wild animal.

See below for their tips regarding encounters with mountain lions, which are also called cougars:

  • Stop. Never run from a cougar. Do not approach the cougar.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Pick up children and pets, or keep them very close.
  • Stand up tall.
  • Do not crouch or squat.
  • Make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head.
  • Talk firmly in a loud voice, back away slowly and leave the area.
  • Fight back if you are attacked. Protect your head and neck.
  • If you are aggressive enough, the cougar will probably flee.

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