Montana FWP Fish & Game was called into action Tuesday afternoon when a young male mountain lion was found in a yard near Elaine Drive in Teresa Ann Terrace.
The call came in to Anaconda-Deer Lodge County police at 5:13 p.m. about a young Tom lying beneath an old pickup truck at the home of Rick and Gwen Gebhart at 1204 Elaine Drive.
ADLC Detective Bill Sather said officers were dispatched and immediately on the scene.
FWP Region 2 Game Warden Joe Kambic was next on scene. The lion was shot without incident and the area was clear by 6:11 p.m. according to Sather.
“The homeowners called the police department and they called me,” Kambic said.
Kambic said at first he wasn’t sure what to do with the lion because of its location. It was burrowed under the truck and didn’t provide much of a target. One thing in his mind was certain however, the lion had to go.
“Unlike bears, we don’t relocate lions,” Kambic reiterated. “If they come into town, especially since this one had already killed two house cats, they have to be killed.”
Because of the proximity to Old Works Golf Course and the surrounding corridor of prime hunting grounds, lions have been becoming more and more prevalent within Deer Lodge County.
“They see the golf course, they see there are deer, there is water, there is great cover, it’s perfect for them,” Kambic said. “But for whatever reason this lion chose to come into town.
Although it’s quite odd for a lion to be seen within city limits, it’s not the first time. Years ago an adult male was spotted on the Dwyer Elementary playground, and there have been many sighting near the ADLC Courthouse and in Washoe Park. Last year, Kambic killed an adult lion in Washoe Park that was spotted crossing near the western entry point.
Kambic believes due to the relative age of this lion, it may have been pressured into town to hunt.
“It doesn’t appear to be too far removed from mom,” he said. “My guess is that it probably got kicked off and had a bigger Tom in his territory. It probably just kept getting moved off.”
Sather says he believes the case was handled swiftly and in the best interest of the people of Anaconda.
“There are a lot of kids down there with the ball fields and playgrounds,” he said. “It’s scary.”
In cases like this, Sather says it’s important not the take the situation into your own hands. He asks that you call the police at 563-5241 or by dialing 911 in emergency situations.