By Robert Lucke
There have been many reports of mountain lion sightings on the increase this summer, both in the Bear Paw Mountains and out in adjoining prairies.
Al Rosgaard, wildlife biologist, has some ideas about where mountain lions are most liable to be seen.
What you see is mountain lions following the food source which is deer both whitetail and mule deer, said Rosgaard. Where there are good deer populations, you will find mountain lions.
Rosgaard describes likely lion living conditions.
Lions prefer rocky ledges and hilly areas, places where they can sneak up on deer more easily, said Rosgaard. Why they are being seen out on the prairie is that they are following drainages and at dusk they are coming out and roaming around the open country.
What to do if you encounter a lion in your camp or on the trail? The Havre office of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has a free campers brochure titled Living with Montana Mountain Lions that Rosgaard suggests people read before heading for that favorite camping spot.
Some suggestions in the brochure include supervising children, remember that at dusk and dawn the lions are more active, and when walking do so in groups and make noise so the lion wont be surprised by you.
Always walk with a sturdy walking stick and when encountering a lion, dont approach it, and make sure it has a clear way to make its escape.
If encountering a lion on the trail, stay calm, do not run, but instead, back away slowly. Dont turn your back and do make yourself look as large as you can. Dont cower.
In a lion attack, fight back. Make the lion think you are a prey animal.
And always this time of year, keep children and dogs close by and in your vision at all times.