Mountain lion attack on woman's dog near Bozeman raises concerns among hikers

What was supposed to be a relaxing day on the trail turned devastating for Cecilia McAfee when her dog Indy was taken by a mountain lion. Indy was never found.
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Posted at 6:02 PM, May 22, 2024

BOZEMAN — On May 15, a regular trail run for a local woman quickly turned into a nightmare when her dog was attacked and dragged away by a mountain lion just five miles from the trailhead at Mount Baldy.

“It did make us think about being out and about on trails with our dogs,” said Wendy Pierce.

Dave and Wendy Pierce have been hiking in the Bozeman area together for over 30 years.

“Since 1993,” said Dave. "We hike in the spring, we hike in the winter, and we hike in the fall.”

They told me they’d never seen a mountain lion while hitting the trails with their furry friends.

“But we’re always thinking about them,” said Dave.

Especially after hearing about another woman’s scary encounter at Mount Baldy.

What was supposed to be a relaxing day on the trail turned devastating for 24-year-old Cecilia McAfee when her dog Indy suddenly began yelping.

Cecilia ran toward the noise where she saw the mountain lion running down a hill dragging Indy away.

Caught off guard, Cecilia began searching for Indy and calling out to her hoping the mountain lion may have given up the fight, but unfortunately, she was never found.

Once returning to her vehicle, McAfee reported the incident to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP). FWP Information and Education Manager Morgan Jacobsen says these types of encounters are fairly rare.

“But we are in mountain lion country,” said Jacobsen. “Mountain lions are predators and they make their living by stalking and capturing prey.”

That’s why Jacobsen says folks should take precautions and be prepared for these types of encounters.

He recommends traveling in groups, making noise, carrying and knowing how to use bear spray, and always keeping your dog close to you or on a leash.

“Just be smart—be listening and looking for signs,” said Wendy. “We’re mindful, but not wary. It’s not going to stop us from going hiking.”