When Bob Castleberry went looking for his three goats and llama to feed on Sunday afternoon, he found one goat and the llama dead from a mountain lion attack. The other two goats were eventually found hiding at a neighbor’s.
“There should be something in the paper to warn people about a killer cat,” said Stacy Payovich, Bob’s daughter. “With all the deer down here in the hayfields and he’s going after domestic stock.”
The Castleberrys live on North River Road, between Duck Creek and the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River, right on the south shore of the Yellowstone River. They’ve had livestock since 1998 on their property and never had any problem with predators.
A Wildlife Services trapper was dispatched to the kill site to set a trap for the lion, but Payovich said he told her that since the lion didn’t return to feed the next night, it was unlikely to return.
No other reports of mountain lions roaming the suburbs of Laurel or Billings have been called in, according to Bob Gibson at the Billings office of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Lions are frequently seen in the Alkali Creek area, he said, and a few years back a sick one got into a chicken coop south of town and was killed.
Mountain lions are solitary animals that mainly hunt at night or in the early morning or evening. Their hunting areas, depending on food sources, can range from 10 to 370 square miles. Young lions typically are the ones that venture into urban areas as they seek hunting grounds not populated by another, more dominant cougar. Females typically weigh around 100 pounds, with males weighing up to 165 pounds. They usually attack by grabbing onto an animal’s throat or from behind with a bite to the base of the skull.
Mountain lions have been known to attack people, often small children. If confronted by a lion, the advice is to not run but to appear large, face the animal and fight back if attacked.