GREAT FALLS — Montana Fish, Wildlife, Parks in Great Falls on Friday confirmed that a mountain lion was killed on Thursday south of Great Falls, outside city limits. The lion was a sub-adult male and was legally taken on private land by a licensed hunter.
FWP said in a news release that a combination of unique physical characteristics of the harvested lion, including an "abnormally short tail and small ears along with its body size," matched details seen on several video recordings from within city limits earlier in the week.
FWP believes that this is the same lion seen in the videos.
The Great Falls Police Department noted that at about 6:30 a.m. on Friday, dispatchers received numerous reports of a lion walking in the area of 3rd Avenue North and 21st Street.
GFPD officers, Sheriff's deputies, and FWP wardens responded and conducted searches of the area, but no evidence of other lions has been found at this time.
The GFPD noted: "We urge community members to remain vigilant in paying attention to their surroundings. Reported sightings will be investigated. It is likely wild animals travel through town frequently but go undetected. Like most community members, we hope these animals travel through unscathed and without causing any harm to humans or pets."
FWP says that while it is not common, predators such as mountain lions and black bears are occasionally seen in or near city limits, and wardens ask the public to report such sightings.
(JANUARY 20, 2022) A mountain lion has been making the rounds in Great Falls this week. We have seen reports that some people claimed to have seen it near Benefis Health System (east campus) early Thursday morning.
The first report of the mountain lion came on Monday night in the vicinity of 8th Avenue North and 10th Street, and more sightings were reported on the north side early Tuesday and into Wednesday.
The Great Falls Police Department says mountain lion was seen early Wednesday morning near 6th Avenue North and 21st Street. Patrol officers investigated the sighting and saw tracks in the snow.
The mountain lion has also been seen downtown. Surveillance cameras at the Great Falls Rescue Mission show the mountain lion behind the Cameron Family Center at 5:54 a.m. on Wednesday at the ReStore building before it headed down the alley to a trash enclosure for a little stop. Then it went down a driveway at the Cameron Family Center and walked by the administration office of the Rescue Mission entrance before crossing 2nd Avenue South.
In addition, a woman posted on Facebook on Wednesday morning that she saw the mountain lion overnight on home surveillance video in the alley of 5th Avenue North and 19th Street.
The big cat also stopped by the O'Haire Motor Inn, home of the iconic Sip 'N Dip Lounge. Surveillance cameras caught the mountain lion walking by the front door and wandering around the courtyard:
The GFPD: "Please be cognizant of your surroundings, including looking up into trees. And, be sure to keep a close eye on small pets. If you see the wild feline please call 911 with the location and direction of travel. If you have a chance to safely keep an eye on the large kitty please do until officers arrive."