An Idaho woman was shocked to discover she was holding onto a male mountain lion when she yanked the creature off her dog last week.
The woman, who has not been identified, believed she was breaking up a "dog fight" between her pup and another pet outside her Mackay home when she suddenly realized she was actually grabbing a wild animal.
After realizing what she had in her hand, the shocked woman — who suffered scratches during the attack — called her husband for backup.
"The woman restrained both her dog and the mountain lion while yelling for her husband, who was still inside the house, to grab a gun. Her husband responded and quickly dispatched the mountain lion as she held on to it," the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) described in a news release Monday.
Local police officers and a wildlife official arrived on the scene roughly 30 minutes later. The responding officer from the IDFG recovered the roughly 35-pound juvenile mountain lion's body and confirmed the carcass would be sent to a nearby lab for testing.
"The Wildlife Health and Forensic Laboratory [will help] determine if disease may have played a part in the lion’s behavior," the IDFG said.
The agency confirmed this is the third reported dog attack by a mountain lion this month.
"A dog was killed by a mountain lion in the Ketchum area, and another dog in the Bellevue area was attacked and later died from its injuries," the department explained. "Also in January, a young, female mountain lion was killed by police in Lava Hot Springs after it was reported wandering through town and showing little fear of humans. The lion was malnourished and appeared blind in one eye."
The Gem State has yet to record a mountain lion-related human fatality, the IDFG says. However, it's important to remain vigilant and keep your pets close.
"Although lion attacks are rare, they are possible, as is injury from any wild animal," the National Park Service (NPS) warns on its website. "Even so, the potential for being killed or injured by a mountain lion is quite low compared to many other natural hazards."
If you do encounter a mountain lion, the NPS suggests staying calm, standing upright and avoiding confrontation. Never approach or run from a lion, as it can "stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase." Similarly, don't bend down as it will make you appear similar to a lion's four-legged prey.
In the event a mountain lion acts aggressively, the NPS says to "appear intimidating."
"If looking bigger doesn't scare the mountain lion off, start throwing stones, branches, or whatever you can reach in its direction without crouching or turning your back. Don't throw things at it just yet. There is no need to unnecessarily injure the mountain lion," the NPS suggests, adding if the creature does start to attack it's important to "fight back."