An unwanted guest prowles into Rupert over weekend


By Benito Baeza

Rupert, Idaho - This past weekend the city of Rupert got an unlikely visitor, strolling the streets in the early morning hours.

It wasn't just the neighbor’s dog that strolled into Rupert early Saturday morning that caught the eye of a very surprised dispatcher for the Minidoka County Sheriffs Office.

Deputy Dustin Bourn said "My grave yard dispatcher said you'll never believe what just walked through the back parking lot of the sheriff’s office."

Out of the shadows of the county courthouse, a mountain lion stepped into the sights of the sheriff’s office surveillance cameras.

Chief Deputy Vic Watson said, "it shows that a mountain lion walking through the back parking lot of the sheriffs office on full recording just sauntering along like he owned the place." "Its highly unusual."

Watson says he was off duty that morning but the surprised and shocked dispatcher called him telling him what she had seen.

"Immediately the safety concerns for the people in the city of Rupert came to mind." .

Up to that point no one had reported seeing the mountain lion in town, fish and game, along with city police and every deputy on duty was sent out looking for the suspect

"About 100 pounds 3 years old; usually you don't go out looking for a mountain lion."

Its not everyday big game comes wondering through the streets of Rupert but it does happen they've had elk, deer and even moose come through the town but a big cat like a mountain lion, well that’s a first, but they do live on the out skirts of the town.

Watson said, "What we've discovered recently is that there's a sustainable population in the north desert areas and along the Snake River including Lake Walcott." the news of a big cat roaming the streets of Rupert surprised and frightened some like long time resident Sylvia Neiwert.

She said, "I thought it was a little scary...I walk right down town where that cat was first seen, and for some reason that morning I just didn't feel like going out for a walk."

While Rupert resident Pat Bennett said, "I'd make me feel uneasy and it'd make me even more uneasy if I had my dog with me.”

Chief Deputy Watson says they just want people to be aware this can happened. Shortly after being seen on camera, the big cat was found in an alley, in someone’s in a garage.

Law enforcement kept an eye on the young male until Fish and Game could tranquilize it and relocated to the mountains, leaving deputies a bit shock.

Bourn said, "I was befuddled, I could not believe that we had had a mountain lion down in town."

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