Mountain lions approach Red Lodge

For those who believe Red Lodge is getting too far away from its frontier days, four wild mountains lions rebut that pre- sumption. A family was spotted just three miles south of town. It is especially important to keep away all human and animal food sources around residences that could draw them in. That includes food left out for deer. Montana law makes it a crime to feed or harbor deer. Shawn Stewart, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist said about the photograph, “Love the light on the female! She appears to have 3 kittens with her. Looks like very light spot- ting remains on the kids. Maybe around 7 months old. The spots disappear at about 6-7 months of age. Thus these kittens appear to be older than 6 months though certainly they are not close to full grown.” Stewart said, “There is always some level of mountain lion activity south of Red Lodge. The thickly wooded terrain and the abundance of white-tails makes this area an ideal habitat for mountain lions. There are frequently a couple of females that have home ranges that over- lap the lower West Fork and adja- cent portions of Rock Creek. And where there are females there will also be a male. The average females home range is around 80 square miles while the average males runs closer to 120 square miles.” “While the lower West Fork is an important component of a females range the cats are not camped there,” Stewart explained. “But they visit with some frequency. It is important to recognize that in the Red Lodge area anyplace where there is an abundance of deer there will eventually be a lion. No way around that fact.” Stewart said that across the face of the Beartooths lion num- bers appear to have been quite stable in recent years and in low- er densities than the late 1900’s. Although rare, Stewart said humans may encounter a lion in Carbon County. “A hiker is extremely unlikely to encounter lions on any trail in the area though it does happen on rare occasions. Such an encounter would in all likelihood result in the lion bounding off. Should that not happen, the hiker needs to take an aggressive posture. Look as big as possible and be loud. Bear spray is a useful tool – don’t leave home without it!” They are out and about in Stillwater County as well. FWP reports that a mountain lion that has appeared in Absarokee during the past few weeks is following deer into town. Residents have reported seeing the lion, which has not acted aggressively, around homes and businesses during all hours. FWP game wardens and biologists have spent many hours searching unsuc- cessfully for the lion, which apparently spends only a small part of its time in town. FWP game warden Paul Luepke said the lion travels through town because numer- ous white-tailed deer also fre- quent Absarokee residential areas. Deer are a favorite prey of mountain lions. Many deer are in town because peo- ple are leaving food for them. The unintended consequence of attracting and feeding deer is that lions eventually will follow. Luepke said lions normal- ly will shy away from people unless they have reason – such as a rich food source – to stay. When people discon- tinue feeding deer, they will leave and the lion will follow. While the lion apparently has not acted aggressively to date, Luepke said, continued contact between wildlife and people eventually could lead to a conflict. In the mean- time, the presence of a lion does not constitute reason to trap or kill it. According to Defenders of Wildlife (DOF), “Mountain lions eat large mammals such as deer, and smaller mam- mals such as mice, squirrels, porcupines, raccoons, rabbits and beavers. There are an estimated 30,000 mountain lions in the western United States.” Usually mountain lions are solitary. According to DOF, “They are very territo- rial and actively avoid other cats except during courtship. They are excellent hunters and travel long distances in search of food. They hunt alone and attack from behind, breaking the neck of their prey by biting it at the base of the skull. After killing their prey, they will bury it and leave it, coming back to feed on it when hungry. Females have two to four kittens, which the mother raises alone. The kittens nurse for two months, and then start to travel with their mother at which time she teaches them to hunt. They will remain with their mother from11⁄2-2years.DOF states, “Males that enter another male’s territory have been known to kill the kittens so that females will be more willing to mate.”

Upcoming Events

  • Saturday, November 25, 2017 - 8:00am
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Saturday, November 25, 2017 - 10:00am
    An Overeaters Anonymous group will meet every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Grace Fellowship Church, Absarokee.
  • Monday, November 27, 2017 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 8:00am
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.