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Mountain lions can be found everywhere…including central and northeastern Montana

GLASGOW – Montana is home to mountain lions, so it’s no surprise if mountain lions are seen in the central and northeastern parts of the state. Mountain lions can be found across the state…basically anywhere there are deer or elk, which is their primary food source. However, due to their elusive nature, they are rarely seen.

Mountain lions have established populations in the Missouri River breaks and the island ranges of central and northeastern Montana, such as the Bears Paw and Little Rockies. In addition, nearly every year, mountain lions have been reported across the Hi-Line near various communities.

Lions have large home ranges and can travel long distances, often preferring river/creek corridors for both cover and food resources. A typical male mountain lion’s territory in Montana is usually more than 100 square miles, while a female’s territory is usually less than 50 square miles. Subadult lions may not be able to immediately find an unoccupied territory. In these cases, subadults become transient, covering very large areas in search of an unoccupied territory.

As part of managing mountain lions in Montana, there is a hunting season harvest quota in all regions of Montana, including Region 6 in northeast Montana. Interested persons can pick up a copy of the mountain lion hunting regulations if interested in harvesting a lion.

Reducing conflicts with mountain lions

In mountain lion country, there’s no way to completely guarantee safety from a mountain lion conflict. However, you can significantly reduce the chance of a lion incident by becoming knowledgeable of lion habits and behavior.

Do not feed wildlife, especially deer, around your home. Not only is this illegal, but lions will also follow their prey to feeding sites. Even avoid landscaping with plants that deer prefer to eat.

If you find a lion kill, leave the area. Lions hide their kills, often with leaf litter and sticks, and may remain close by.

Bring pets and food attractants in at night.

Predators are usually much more active at night and dawn/dusk

Do not hike alone.

Go in groups, with adults supervising children.

Keep children close to you.

Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.

Do not let pets run off leash .

Minimize your recreation during dawn and dusk.

Carry a deterrent device (bear pepper spray). Know how to use it and keep it within easy reach.

When encountering a lion

Knowing what to do if you encounter a mountain lion can reduce the potential for a conflict. The following tips have been shown to be effective:

Do not approach a lion.

Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

Do not run from a lion.

Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Do not turn your back. Make eye contact. If there are small children nearby, pick them up if possible so they don’t panic and run.

Do not crouch down or bend over if possible.

A person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a 4-legged prey animal. When in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching, or bending over, even when picking up children.

Appear larger.

Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.

Be vocal.

Talk calmly and regularly.

Teach others how to behave.

Anyone who starts running could initiate an attack.

If a lion attacks:

If you are unarmed, you can use bear pepper spray to deter the lion. Many potential victims have also fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands.

If you have a firearm, and know how to use it safely and effectively, Montana law allows you to kill a mountain lion to defend yourself, another person, livestock, or a domestic dog. If you do kill a lion in self-defense, you must report it to FWP within 72 hours.

Defend other people.

If you need to defend other people, be aggressive.

In the end, we need to remember that mountain lions are just another part of the vast Montana landscape that we share with them and all wild creatures. For more information on mountain lions, please visit the FWP website at https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/mountain-lion.

 
 
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