FWP issues warning after biker encounters mountain lions on Whitefish Trail

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A mountain biker had a brief encounter with a family of mountain lions on Wednesday, June 26 on the Whitefish Trail north of town.

An adult man was riding a mountain bike on the trail near Haskill Lake when he encountered a group of three to four mountain lions, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The man reported the incident to FWP, which determined that no management action was needed as a result of the encounter.

The lions did not make physical contact with the biker at any time and based on the description of the encounter, it appears that the lions did not display predatory behavior, according to a FWP release.

FWP officials are reminding folks to not approach wildlife and carry bear spray when recreating.

“Trail users are advised to be aware of possible encounters with wildlife and review our recommended safety tips for avoiding conflicts,” said Chad White, FWP Region 1 bear and lion technician.

FWP says bears and mountain lions, along with most wildlife, will try to avoid confrontation. Recreationists should give wildlife at least 100 yards of space. Mountain lions and bears are most active at dusk and dawn when their prey is active, but they do travel at any time of the day or night.

FWP offers tips in case of encountering a mountain lion.

Don’t approach mountain lions as most will try to avoid a confrontation. Don’t run from a lion as this may stimulate their instinct to chase, but instead stand and face the animal by keeping eye contact. If small children are nearby, while still facing the lion, pick them up if possible so they don’t panic and run.

Don’t crouch or bend over because a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal.

Appear larger by raising your arms and speaking in a firm voice with the idea being to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.

FWP also gives some tips in case of encountering a bear.

Always carry bear spray and make certain it is ready. If a grizzly bear charges, the first option is to remain standing and direct the spray at the charging bear. A bear may “bluff charge” or run past.

Do don’t run, but slowly back away from the bear if possible and keep a distance of at least 100 yards.

Behave in a non-threatening manner and do not attempt to frighten or haze a grizzly bear that is near or feeding on a carcass.

For more information, visit fwp.mt.gov. To report wildlife conflicts, contact the FWP Region 1 Headquarters at 406-752-5501.

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