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FWP officials share tips on avoiding mountain lion conflicts

Herron Park signs

In 2016 Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 1 officials received 94 calls about mountain lions, and this year the calls are already starting to come in.

FWP officials told NBC Montana they receive more calls for mountain lion sightings during February and March due to prey moving to lower ground and closer to people.

Flathead Valley resident Ron Cron frequents the hiking trails in Herron Park, and he recently saw evidence a mountain lion had been in the area.

"I was just clearing out the trails and stuff, and I ran across (an animal carcass) there, but I always see signs up here though, there's always mountain lions up here," said Cron.

Cron found the remains of what he said were a dog and a deer on the Direct trail in Herron Park, just a little over a mile from the parking lot.

He told NBC Montana he thinks a mountain lion killed the animals.

FWP Region 1 wildlife manager Neil Anderson said they sometimes hear reports of mountain lions at Lone Pine State Park and Herron Park.

"Any time you have deer and trees you have the potential for mountain lions," said Anderson.

He said many people hike those trails, so he offered some advice.

"If you’re out there just be aware of your surroundings and know that mountain lions could be out there, make sure you control your dogs, have them on a leash,” said Anderson. “A wandering pet could become a target for a hungry mountain lion."

FWP tends to hear more reports of mountain lions in the spring, because the big cats follow deer and other prey to lower ground. Anderson also noted that people notice tracks in the snow during this time, while in the summer they would not be able to.

Cron isn’t concerned about the sightings.

"We live in Montana, and when we’re out like this we are in their home, we are just visitors, so be respectful of the animals and be aware," Cron told NBC Montana.

Anderson told NBC Montana there have also been recent sightings of mountain lions in Columbia Falls. He advises anyone who has seen a mountain lion hanging around their residence to call FWP at 406-752-5501.

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