Cougar killed near Fred Burr Creek
By PERRY BACKUS Ravalli Republic | Posted: Monday, February 1, 2010 11:00 pm
HAMILTON – Officials and locals are hoping a mountain lion killed last week in the Fred Burr Creek drainage is the same animal that’s been killing pets and livestock in the area for several months now.
“Lions are territorial and it’s not likely another lion would end up in the same spot, but the devil is always in the details,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Sgt. Joe Jaquith. “Unless we can catch one bloody red-handed – which almost never happens – we can’t know for sure.”
In December, a mountain lion snatched a dog off a family’s deck, and ran a horse to death. Over the past year, neighbors have had dogs come up missing and others complained of a mountain lion attacking their livestock.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org
Last week, local lion hunter Bob Kubiak spotted a large female mountain lion literally in someone’s backyard in the Fred Burr Creek drainage. It was the second time in less than a week he had seen it near a home.
“It was a really big female,” he said. “She probably went about 120 pounds.”
Kubiak said neighbors had reported seeing the lion around their homes for several weeks.
“This cat was growling at people whenever someone got close to it,” he said. “When we caught up with it, it went absolutely nuts. It was growling, snarling and hissing. That is just not characteristic of what we typically see.”
“It was a bad cat,” Kubiak said.
Kubiak spotted the lion in the neighbor’s backyard at about 8:30 a.m. He and fellow lion hunter Randy Dugan used five dogs to tree the cat.
Dugan shot the lion when it looked like it was about to attack the dogs.
“It was getting really dangerous for the dogs,” Kubiak said. “The cat was getting ready to dive into them. That’s not characteristic at all.”
Kubiak is pretty confident the lion was the same that killed a dog on its owner’s deck about a month ago in the Bear Creek drainage. He said the animal’s track was about the same size and its behavior was unusual.
Kubiak had two dogs shot by a neighbor while attempting to tree that lion last December. The dogs were running across the neighbor’s property when they were shot. That incident remains under investigation by local law enforcement.
Kubiak said there was a “tremendous amount of public support” to have the lion killed.
“The neighbors have all issued a sigh of relief,” he said.
Bear Creek – like most all the drainages on the west side of the Bitterroot – provide good mountain lion habitat, Jaquith said.
“People living in those areas just have to expect that there are lions around,” he said. “You could go out on any given day and maybe run into one. In the 20 years that I’ve lived here, there hasn’t been a person killed by lion.”
Posted in State-and-regional on Monday, February 1, 2010 11:00 pm Updated: 11:01 pm.