CASPER, Wyo. — Not just one but two mountain lion cubs were caught Wednesday night in the Cache Creek area in Jackson.
The lions will join a third sibling and their mother, captured earlier, before being released between Lander and Rawlins within the next few days, Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Mark Gocke said Thursday.
Wyoming Game and Fish staff members set live traps hoping to capture what was believed to be the sole member of the mountain lion family still on the loose.
Finding two more was unexpected but not “entirely surprising,” Gocke said.
Wildlife officials had received sightings of a mother and two young lions.
The cats were first reported feeding on mule deer carcasses in the residential area on Jan. 17.
The three cubs, a male and two females, are about 7 months old, based on their teeth, Gocke said. They are believed to all be from the same family, although Game and Fish biologists may conduct DNA tests for verification, he said.
Mountain lions in Wyoming usually stay with their mothers until they are about 14 to 15 months old, Gocke said.
After initial efforts to haze the animals out of the residential area failed, Game and Fish staff members tried to trap the cats Jan. 23. They caught the mother the first night and the first cub Jan. 26. The two were taken to the Tom Thorne-Beth Williams Wildlife Research Facility near Wheatland.
The recently captured lions are on their way to the facility to be reunited with the others before being released.
The Craighead Beringia South mountain lion advocacy group advocated releasing the animals in the Jackson area, away from development but still within their territorial boundaries.
Game and Fish officials opted to set the animals loose between Lander and Rawlins.
“Our primary objective is to get these lions out of a developed area, away from people,” Gocke said. “They are very habituated to (the Cache Creek) area.”
Studies show mountain lions will travel 100 to 300 miles, so Game and Fish officials wanted to make sure the lions were released far enough from their old territory to prevent them from returning, and in an isolated enough area they don’t venture into another development, Gocke said.
The animals were all in good condition when found and there is no reason to hold them, Gocke said.
“We’d rather them get back to being wild lions as soon as possible,” he said.