UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) say the mountain lion killed in Helena city limits on Wednesday was a subadult male that appeared to be healthy.
FWP believe there a few ways the cat could have made its way to the NorthWestern Energy property; noting Helena is right in the middle of mountain lion habitat.
“It’s not uncommon for mountain lion to be found around here,” said FWP spokesman Greg Lemon, “When we look at where that lion was found– in the open spaces by Centennial park and the railroad tracks, it’s not too hard to envision how a lion to get into some of those corridors want wader it’s way in.”
FWP also 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.
“You know it’s unlike with a grizzly bear where you’re backing away and trying to no escalate the situation. With a mountain lion humans want to be aggressive in scaring that animal away,” noted Lemon.
If you see a mountain lion in city limits, by a home or near a public area like a hiking trail FWP asks that you report the animal to law enforcement for the safety of all.
Reporting by John Riley for MTN News
UPDATE 8:51 A.M. Helena Police say a mountain lion discovered in city limits has been killed and removed by Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
In a news release, police say the mountain lion was spotted at the NorthWestern Energy property on Last Chance Gulch. An employee saw the cat in the bushes near an entrance to the building.
Interim Police Chief Steve Hagen said in a release that, “Immobilizing and relocating mountain lions located in urban areas is a not safe/ feasible option so lethal means are used.”
HELENA – Authorities contained a mountain lion within Helena city limits Wednesday morning.
According to a release from Helena Police, the animal was spotted in the 1300 block of Last Chance Gulch around 7:30 a.m.
“There is no threat to the public and at this time, they have the mountain lion contained in an area where it is not a threat,” HPD said.
Police are asking people to avoid the area while officers work to remove the mountain lion.
Helena Police, Animal Control officers and Fish and Game officers all responded.