A mountain lion and dog got into an all-out brawl that resulted in the lion being killed and the dog requiring stitches.
Glacier National Park reported that a park ranger shot and killed a mountain lion last week that was fighting with a dog. A park employee was returning to her residence in the park employee housing area on the late afternoon of March 21, when she opened her car door to let out two dogs she had with her. The dogs apparently bolted from the car and she raced after them. One dog returned to her but she caught up with the other dog to find it in a violent battle with a mountain lion.
Other people and park staff heard the commotion and ran to the scene to help by throwing rocks and sticks at the lion, trying to separate the two animals with a shovel and using bear spray on the lion. The fight continued with the two combatants rolling down an embankment near a river.
A park ranger, who reportedly owned the dog that was fighting the lion, arrived and shot the mountain lion. An investigation later confirmed that the ranger was justified in the shooting.
Glacier spokeswoman Denise Germann reported, “The investigation concluded that the ranger, or any other ranger, would have acted in the same manner due to the rapidly evolving circumstances of the situation.”
Immediately after the lion was shot the dog jumped into the river and the ranger waded in to secure it. It was taken to a veterinarian where it received treatment for wounds suffered and multiple stitches. The employee who was caring for the dogs at the time of the attack was cited for not properly leashing the dogs as park rules dictate.
Glacier’s chief ranger, Paul Austin, said in a press release. “The sub-adult mountain lion displayed characteristics of habitation. The cat failed to flee the developed area after housing residents yelled and screamed, and rocks and logs were thrown at the cat.”
He also said, “We take this incident seriously, as many children were playing outside in the housing area at the time of the incident.”
The presence of children playing in the area brings up an interesting question of what motivated the big cat to fearlessly enter a populated location, as well as the dog’s possible role in preventing something worse from occurring.
Mountain lions have been spotted in the housing area before, including one that was chased away earlier this winter.
Germann reiterated, “Well, Glacier National Park is home to mountain lions and the last several winters we’ve had various sightings of mountain lions in the housing area.”
Park policy for dealing with mountain lions includes posting signs in areas lions frequent and educating visitors and staff on the animals; closing areas and/or trail where frequent sightings have occurred, and hazing or possible removal of animals encountered. Pets are allowed in the park but are not permitted on trails, along lake shores, in the backcountry, or in any building. Pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet, under physical restraint, or caged at all times, including while in open-bed pickup trucks.