Residents at the University of Montana's Married Student Housing complex live next door to a mountain lion, and a regional supervisor for the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has warned residents to watch out for the big cat.
Rich Clough advised students living in the complex at the base of Mount Sentinel to keep a careful watch over their children and pets, and to keep pet food indoors.Mountain lion attacks in western Montana have been on the rise in the past year, and one of the victims, an Evaro boy, was killed last September.
Clough said he attempted to track and tranquilize the Mount Sentinel lion, but a team of dogs lost its scent on the dry hillside grass.
The same lion has been seen on the mountain since April, Clough said, although the cat so far has not shown any aggressive behavior toward humans.
Under a new state policy, officials investigate every report of a mountain lion in populated areas and relocate any of the cats that have become too comfortable with being around humans.
In the past year, there have been 28 reports of aggressive or nuisance lions, according to a report released this week by the state wildlife agency.
The report said the lions that have attacked humans first were attracted to livestock, garbage or pets in campgrounds and residential areas, then "experimented" with humans as "a potential prey species."