By MIKE STARK
Of The Gazette Staff
A mountain lion was shot and killed Monday morning in the eastern portion of Lockwood, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
A homeowner on Lauretta Drive called around 8 a.m. to report the young male mountain lion in a tree outside his house.
Harold Guse, warden captain for FWP, shot the lion in the tree.
"It's an unfortunate event when we have to lethally remove wildlife in urban areas. But if an animal is a threat, human safety is our first priority," Guse said in a statement. Tranquilizing and relocating mountain lions have not been effective in the past. Darting can give an opportunity to the animals to escape or cause other problems, and simply moving them to another area often leads to conflicts with other mountain lions, which are territorial.
Because the animal was in an urban area, it was shot and killed immediately.
The subadult male lion was likely wandering in search of a new home range, the agency said.
"Billings is completely surrounded by mountain lion habitat," said Jennifer Pelej, an FWP spokeswoman.
As the population grows, young males are displaced and go looking for new homes. There are periodic reports of mountain lions in and around the city, but it's rare to have one in such a developed residential area.
"It's not common by any means, but it certainly is possible, obviously," Pelej said.
The mountain lion appeared to weigh around 100 pounds and was in good condition.
Its carcass was placed in plastic bags and thrown in the garbage.
State officials said there are steps to help keep wildlife out of residential areas, including removing vegetation that might provide good hiding places for animals and keeping pet and livestock food indoors.
On May 23, 2006, a yearling black bear was shot and killed by authorities after it was seen in a tree in Lockwood.
Published on Tuesday, May 22, 2007.
Last modified on 5/22/2007 at 12:34 am