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Two Mountain Lions Killed Near Columbia Falls Park

A mountain lion in Glacier National Park.
National Park Service (PD)
A mountain lion in Glacier National Park.

Two young mountain lions were killed near a Columbia Falls park over the weekend. One was shot and killed by a local homeowner Saturday and the other was killed by police.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks received reports of mountain lions in the area during the week, prompting the state agency to alert Columbia Falls police.

The first Saturday sighting was close to a house near River’s Edge, a Columbia Falls park situated on the Flathead River. That homeowner shot the young cat and then turned the carcass over to FWP.

Department spokesperson Dillon Tabish says Columbia Falls Police shot at another mountain lion near the park later the same day.

“We have not been able to retrieve the carcass of that lion, but it is believed to be dead," he said.

FWP investigated the homeowner's shooting and determined the person acted in self-defense.

The two mountain lions are believed to have killed a domestic cat. Tabish said mountain lions have not been tolerated in urban areas over the last decade. Anyone who thinks a lion is threatening their life or property is allowed to shoot the animal, though FWP prefers people first call the agency or try to scare away the animal with noise.

Mountain lions are typically reclusive animals, but Tabish said younger mountain lions have been known to travel together. Younger lions also tend to seek out lower elevations during mating season and when deer populations are on the move in order to avoid older, territorial males.

“This time of year, mountain lions can be moving around, young juveniles particularly," Tabish said. "July through September is when we have the highest number of calls related to sightings or potential conflicts with mountain lions.”

The number of mountain lions killed in urban areas has been decreasing over the past decade, according to Tabish, and two were removed in northwestern Montana last year.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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