Mountain lion spotted on popular Butte trail
BUTTE, Mont. - Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials told NBC Montana that a hiker spotted a mountain lion on a popular trail outside of Butte. The big cat was seen at the Maud S. Canyon trail, also known as the East Ridge Trail. The trail is located off Saddle Rock Road. Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials the mountain lion was about a quarter of a mile up the trail earlier this week. Officials said it's common for the big cats to be near the city around this time of year, but soon they'll be moving on to higher elevations. "Places like the East Ridge and the Maud S. trail, it's prime habitat for deer, for moose up there," said wildlife biologist Vanna Boccadori. She said mountain lions follow their prey. "Deer are mostly moving up to higher elevations, so hopefully the mountain lions will follow," she said. Boccadori said the most important thing is to be alert when hiking in mountain lion habitat. "Be aware when you're up there recreating," Boccadori said. "I wouldn't not go up there because of that, just be smart about it." Butte hiker Scott Wheeler plans on doing just that, and more. Wheeler showed us his can of pepper spray he usually carries with him to protect him from wildlife. "It is kind of scary because they are predators," he said. "So I started bringing pepper spray." Wheeler said especially in the Maud S. Canyon area, he keeps an eye out for big cats and other predators. "I think they see you, you don't see them, you know, they can stalk you, so yeah I definitely do watch for them," he said. Butte hiker Colten Schnell said he hikes Maud S. frequently and isn't concerned about the mountain lion. "I'm not really worried about them but I am conscious that they're up here," he explained. Boccadori told us if hikers like Wheeler and Schell do come across the path of a big cat, to make themselves look big. "Put your hands over your head, stretch up tall, wave your arms," she listed. "Shout, yell, clap your hands, you know, anything just to make yourself seem like a bigger predator than they are." Fish, Wildlife and Parks said if you know a mountain lion is in the area, keep your children and pets close. Do not run if you encounter a lion, back away slowly and keep your eyes on the cat.