By Robert Lucke
On both sides of the Rocky Mountains, there have been increased incidents of mountain lions attacking pets, livestock and even children.
The Glacier Institute is offering a two-day seminar in how to be safe in country that lions or cougars frequent.
Wildlife biologist Jamie Jonkel will teach people how to live and recreate safely in cougar country during the two-day Glacier Institute seminar in the North Fork Valley, March 31 and April 1. Jonkel will also discuss basic mountain lion ecology in the Glacier Institute's "Cougar Facts."
Jonkel said that as more and more people choose to reside outside of city limits, encounters with mountain lions will increase. "We are creating a whole new habitat for lions," he said. "Lions are learning that it's easier to live on the fringes than in the wilderness."
In the Glacier Institute seminar, Jonkel will be teaching people how to landscape their property to make it safe for their families and pets. He will stress the need to educate children about mountain lions and what signs to look for, such as scratch marks.
"Little kids are a heck of a lot more observant than adults sometimes," he said. "Kids need to be taught, just like you don't talk to strangers, you look for mountain lion sign,'" he said.
Jonkel recommends this seminar for anyone who lives, recreates, works or is planning to build a home in cougar country. He also recommends it for people who just want to learn about the fascinating lives of lions.
Jonkel has researched lions and bears in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. He has also spent time in Russia studying tigers and leopards. Presently he is employed as a mountain lion and bear specialist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The seminar is based out of the Big Creek Outdoor education Center in the North Fork. Cost of the seminar is $90. That includes lodging.
For more information or to register for "Cougar Facts," call the Glacier Institute in Kalispell, Mont at (406) 755-1211 or visit www.glacierinstitute.org.