After receiving reports of a mountain lion prowling around Laurel during the past week, the Laurel Police Department is asking residents to secure sources of food that might attract the animal.
The cat was first spotted last week, eating a dead animal near the intersection of First Avenue and 12th Street during the early morning hours, according to a press release from Police Chief Rick Musson.
Captain Mark Guy also reported a mountain lion munching on a dead deer near the intersection of Beartooth Drive and Valley Drive late Monday morning, the release states.
Citing Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Robert Gibson, Mussen added that most likely, the animal is simply roaming its territory.
"It is looking for food and will likely move on if it finds none," the release states. "The message, therefore, should be to keep one’s yard and neighborhood clean and free of prey — and the lion will go elsewhere to eat."
The state wildlife department's policy is to euthanize any mountain lions captured by state officials, and therefore aims to avoid trapping them. The release also notes that the Rimrocks north of Laurel and areas around the Yellowstone River are normal mountain lion habitat.
Recommendations from the agency to residents include:
- Installing outdoor lighting.
- Supervising children, especially during dawn and dusk.
- Educating children on how to behave if they encounter a mountain lion.
- Pruning dense vegetation the cats may use as cover.
- Removing bird seed and other foods that could attract prey animals.
- Securing pets and garbage.
- Protecting and sheltering livestock.