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Report mountain lion sightings to FWP

Headlines - Region 6

Fri Jun 15 00:00:00 MDT 2007

Report mountain lion sightings to FWP


If you see a mountain lion anywhere in northeastern Montana, don’t run but do pick small children up off the ground and be prepared to fight back if a lion acts aggressively. And report any mountain lion sighting or confrontation as soon as possible to Fish, Wildlife & Parks or local law enforcement agencies.
Mountain lion activity been rumored in Valley and Roosevelt counties over the past several months, and while actual lion sightings are yet unconfirmed, FWP reminds residents that the big cats could be just about anywhere in the area, especially along the Milk and Missouri rivers and their larger, timbered tributaries.


“We don’t think of northeast Montana as mountain lion country, but they have everything they need to make a living here, from abundant food in the form of deer and small mammals, hiding cover and large areas with few people,” says Harold Wentland, FWP’s regional wildlife manager in Glasgow. “We have a small resident population, and it’s not unusual to hear of juvenile mountain lions moving through this area in the spring. They’re generally young males that have been pushed out of their home territory and are roaming to find suitable habitat.”


Unconfirmed sightings have been reported this spring in the Culbertson area, northeast of Wolf Point, along the Missouri River near Park Grove and near Nashua.


Most Montanans live all their lives without a glimpse of an elusive mountain lion, much less a confrontation with one. People who do see a cougar generally only see a fleeting glimpse or movement as a lion moves out of sight. But because mountain lions are predatory carnivores, their actions can be unpredictable. Here are some recommended responses to minimize the likelihood of an attack or chance of a human injury:


  • Stay in groups and make enough noise to prevent surprising a lion. When hiking in lion country, carry a sturdy stick to ward off an aggressive cat;
  • Never approach a mountain lion. Cougars will normally avoid a confrontation, but give them a way out;
  • If you do encounter a lion, stay calm. Talk to the lion in a confident but calm voice;
  • Pick young children up off the ground immediately. Children tend to frighten easily and their rapid movement may provoke an attack;
  • Don’t run. Move slowly and back away from the lion slowly. Sudden movement or fleeing behavior can trigger instinctive predatory attacks by lions;
  • Do not turn your back on the lion. Face the cougar and remain in an upright position;
  • Do anything you can to enlarge your image. Raise your arms over your head or enlarge your profile with a coat or shirt;
  • If a lion behaves aggressively, throw rocks, arm yourself with a large stick and if a lion attacks, fight back. Many people have survived lion attacks by fighting back with everything from rocks, sticks, bare fists and even fishing poles.


If you do see a lion in this area and it is not acting aggressive, consider yourself lucky to see a seldom seen game species. Take note of the lion’s appearance, direction of travel and specific location and then call FWP at 228-3700 during business hours or a local law enforcement agency after hours or on weekends.