Missoula game wardens were forced to euthanize a mountain lion and its three young offspring after the big cat killed two dogs in city limits.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) game wardens put down a female mountain lion and her three kittens, after the lion had killed and partially eaten two dogs in Missoula.
There is no information on how old or large the kittens were, but it is thought that the mother may have ventured into city limits because she couldn't find or kill game in the wild.
FWP wildlife management specialist Jamie Jonkel stated:
"It's sad. Unfortunately, with the colder temperatures, she must have gotten a little desperate trying to feed three kittens. She would have been safe if she had just kept to hunting deer and elk."
According to Jonkel, the mother mountain lion killed a 35-pound dog on Sunday, and wardens then euthanized two of the young lions on Monday. They waited at the site of the dog kill, hoping for the mother and her remaining kitten to return.
While waiting, however, they received a call from a person who had just had the remaining lions kill and partially consume their dog (dog number two).
Game wardens were able to go to the site and dispatch both remaining cats.
Jonkel indicated that both kills occurred near a school bus stop for young children, and that the safety of the children was the priority concern.
Gail Maehl, a dog owner and resident of the Grant Creek area in Missoula where the attacks took place said, "What's most disconcerting is not that (the lions) are out there, it's that they're so aggressive." Well, mountain lions are aggressive predators. "Going forward I'm not necessarily afraid," Maehl said. "Just aware."
Jonkel indicated that trapping and relocating the mountain lions is not a viable option.
"There have been mishaps in the past with trapping lions," he said. "We trap and relocate bears, but not mountain lions. They behave completely differently from bears."
FWP Region 2 manager Mike Thompson said, "There's quite a few [mountain lions] around. They are very common. What's uncommon is for them to show themselves and for them to get used to living around humans."
This is not the first time that lions have killed and eaten domestic dogs. in 2015 a similar incident occurred in the Rattlesnake Mountains, four miles north of Missoula.
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