Attack near Libby prompts mountain lion safety advice

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Attack near Libby prompts mountain lion safety advice

Bear spray is the best defense against a mountain lion. (MTN News photo)Bear spray is the best defense against a mountain lion. (MTN News photo)

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Montana wildlife officials are offering up some safety tips for folks in the wake of last month’s mountain lion attack near Libby.

“Mountain lions have a sight picture of the back of the neck of a deer, so that’s why the experts say to don’t bend down or turn away from a mountain lion if you actually see one,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman John Fraley explained.

Mountain lions are all over rural Montana, but your chances of seeing them are rare because they’re nocturnal. But one man wasn’t so lucky and was attacked by a mountain lion near Boundary Mountain near Libby on May 27.

“He was bending over to attach a chain to a tree he had cut down, or had logged, and he was banged into the tree and scratched,” Fraley said. Scratched and bruised, the man got away but only after he fought back striking the mountain lion with his arm.

Experts say bear spray is your best defense against a mountain lion encounter, but if you don’t have any with you then sticks, rocks — or using a gun — are other ways to defend yourself.

“If that Mountain lion ever starts actually approaching and it looks like it’s going to be aggressive, you always fight back when it comes to a Mountain lion,” Fraley advised. “People that fight back survive.”

Wildlife experts also say folks can help prevent mountain lion encounters around their homes by making sure you’re not drawing them in.

“Don’t feed deer because deer obviously mountain lions are probably number one food as deer. So if you’re feeding deer and drawing them in not only is that illegal to do but you’re probably drawing mountain lions in as well,” Fraley said.

Although your chances of seeing a mountain lion are slim, it could happen, and if you don’t have bear spray fighting back is your best chance of survival. FWP offers up more information on mountain lions here.

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