Red Lodge not just for tourists: Wildlife comes to town

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, June 13, 2019
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Photos by Susan Hovde
Busy Season. Both a lion and bear were taken at night on an animal cam located by White Ave. in south Red Lodge in late October. Recently, a portion of a large cat-like head just showed up in the same animal cam meaning at least the mountain lion is probably still roaming around.

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Few people will argue with you if you say that Red Lodge is a fun town to visit. Many tourists pass through to enjoy the sights, scenes and smells, but they are not the only ones. 

Recently, there have been a slew of large predator sightings in and about Red Lodge from lions to bears. These animals are to be taken seriously. They are not cute, nor do they resemble the cuddly stuffed versions. 

Susan Hovde seems to have both her share of lions and bears. 

Hovde reported on her animal cam seeing a portion of a large cat like head in the picture recently. She provided some previous animal cams from last October to let the community know what was around then-and is probably still around now. 

On May 31, around 11:30 p.m. it seems that one last reveler, perhaps left over from the previous Monday’s Memorial Day, was looking for a late night snack from the Red Box Car south of town. That was a mountain lion that showed up in the police blotter. This week a bear was in the same area.

Despite the summer holiday atmosphere, these predators are deadly serious. Last week, a sub-adult lion was killed by FWP after he strayed too close to town in Helena according to the Independent Record. He remained standing in the bushes outside the NorthWestern Energy (NWE) building while customers were inside during morning hours. A NWE employee called 911 when he noticed him on the scene. 

Lions are densely located in Montana in good or prime habitat. If they remain too long in town, they are not relocated like bears since lions’ ranges are so large that they will likely run into conflict with another lion if released in good habitat. The remaining choices are therefore, to monitor the animal and hope he moves on or dispatch him. They usually do move on since such healthy sub-adults must seek their own territory. It is a difficult time for the sub-adults as well as Red Lodge locals. According to, “There are three times during their lives when cougars are most at risk: immediately after birth, immediately after becoming independent transients, and during old age. Kittens left alone at a den or kill are vulnerable to other predators, including adult male cougars; it is unknown how many kittens survive to maturity, but experts suspect that kitten deaths could equal or exceed the number of cougars killed by sport hunting. Transient cougars spend most of their time in unfamiliar territory and have not honed their hunting skills, so do not hunt as efficiently as resident cougars.”

So be calm but be careful. Keep back doors closed and latched, don’t go out late at night without a light and bear spray and secure your cans. Small children as well as pets should be monitored at all times outdoors. 


The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.