People are being warned of mountain lion activity in the Mount Helena area.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks notified city officials that someone recently found a deer that had been killed by a lion near a trail.
Then the city got a report that someone had seen a lion in the Dump Gulch area on Monday night.
Helena Parks, Recreation, and Open Lands staff placed warning signs at trailheads leading into Mount Helena Park.
They recommend keeping small children close and pets on a leash while on the trails.
While this is a specific warning, leaders say you should always keep in mind that there may be wild animals in the South Hills.
Brad Langsather, Helena Open Lands manager, said, "The public can expect to encounter both lions or bears within these parks, and it's always important to understand the proper safety precautions to use when you're hiking, running, biking, and what you should do if you encounter either of the species.”
City leaders say they are looking at installing permanent signs at the trailheads letting people know they are in mountain lion territory.
- MAY 2019: FWP removes mountain lion found near Helena’s Centennial Park
- OCT 2019: Homeowner kills mountain lion following livestock depredation
FWP recommends people learn what to do if they encounter a mountain lion and how to defend themselves:
- Never approach a mountain lion. Most lions will try to avoid a confrontation as long as you give them a way to escape.
- Do not run. Mountain lions are predators and running may stimulate their instinct to chase and kill. Instead, face the animal, keep making eye contact and stand up. If you have small pet or children, pick them up so that they don’t run. Also never bend over or crouch down since it can make you resemble a four-legged prey animal.
- Appear as large as possible. Open your jacket if wearing one and raise your arms. Throw items like branches, stones, water bottles or anything else you can reach without bending down or turning your back. You want to convince the animal you are could be a danger to it.
- Fight back. If a lion attacks it will usually try to grab your head or neck. Fight back and try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
- Bear Spray. Carry bear spray with you while hiking. Although it is called “bear” spray, the pepper powder will work on just about any wild or domestic animal that attacks.