Officials issue warning after multiple mountain lion sightings


    A mountain lion was spotted both in Hamilton and in Arlee this week. This adds to the spotting in Florence last week.<p>{/p}

    There have been two mountain lion sightings this week in western Montana. One was spotted late Tuesday in Hamilton near a bus stop. The other was seen roaming in Arlee on Wednesday a few miles from the school.

    Last week, a parent took a picture of a mountain lion by the Tie Chute bus turn in Florence.

    It seems to be happening often, but Vivaca Crowser with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says these reports aren’t out of the ordinary.

    “It's really not atypical to get these reports,” explained Crowser. “What we want to hear about is anything a little different -- a lion repeatedly in the same area, hanging out.”

    Crowser added that sightings increase this time of year when mountain lions follow their prey down into the valleys.

    She says wardens aren’t concerned with the sightings unless a cat is spotted multiple times in the same area.

    Whether it’s a mountain lion, a bear or even a moose, Crowser says a dangerous encounter isn’t very likely.

    "None of these encounters, in terms of being dangerous, are very common at all,” Crowser said. “No matter what animal, the best thing to do always is just to stop, give it space and most times, no matter the animal, they'll want to go their own way."

    If you do come close to a mountain lion, FWP has a handful of tips.

    Most importantly, make yourself look big. The bigger you look, the more likely they will walk away. Crowser says this might even include holding up a backpack you’re wearing.

    Sticking with groups, shouting and stomping can also scare mountain lions away.

    Experts say slowly moving away gives you a better chance at escape.

    If a mountain lion attacks you, they encourage you to fight back.

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