BOISE, Idhao (AP) _ A three-state manhunt was under way Monday for a self-styled mountain man who cut his way out of the Idaho State Penitentiary, where he was serving a sentence for gunning down two fish and game wardens in 1981.

Claude Dallas escaped Sunday evening after another inmate posed as Dallas during a security check, authorities said. Shortly before that, Dallas had been in the prison administration building, where he visited a woman whom authorities would not identify.

Dallas, 36, apparently used a pair of wire cutters to make holes in two fences around the administration building, authorities said.

Dallas was serving a 30-year sentence for the slaying of two Fish and Game officers who tried to arrest him for poaching. He had eluded authorities for 16 months after the killings before his capture in 1982.

Warden Arvon Arave said bloodhounds picked up what could be Dallas's scent early Monday in southeastern Oregon.

Security at the prison was tightened Monday as prisoners were ordered locked in their cells. Arave said every available corrections officer was involved in the search.

At the prison site, several horsemen searched the Owhyee Desert while others combed the area immediately around the prison on foot. Officers also looked for Dallas from a small plane.

Sheriffs in surrounding counties, including northern Nevada, were notified.

Meanwhile, the Reno, Nev., woman with whom Dallas met at the prison was questioned in Reno early Monday and later released. Arave said her name is not being made public because there isn't conclusive evidence she was involved in the escape.

Dallas initially was charged with first-degree murder for the deaths of Bill Pogue and Conley Elms. But a jury returned a voluntary manslaughter conviction.

At the Fish and Game Department, Director Jerry Conley said the escape brought up painful memories for his staff, and prompted concern for fish and game officers and sportsmen who might accidently encounter Dallas.

''It puts a lot of people in jeopardy, including the individual whose tip led to his capture,'' Conley said. Although that person's name was never disclosed, Conley said he was afraid Dallas would try to guess his identity.

Arave and Corrections Department Director Al Murphy both said they weren't surprised at the apparent ease Dallas had in escaping the prison, which is about 10 miles south of Boise.

''A pair of wire cutters will get you out of this place any day of the week,'' Arave said. ''It makes more sense to go through (the fence) than over it.''

The building wasn't built for maximum security prisoners, he said. The Idaho Legislature this year appropriated $8 million for a new maximum security facility.

Owhyee County Sheriff Tim Nettleton, who was instrumental in the first investigation and capture of Dallas, was leading the search with bloodhounds in southeastern Oregon.