Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks euthanized four mountain lions in Missoula this week after a family in the lower Grant Creek area called in a report that their dog had been killed by the lions. Wildlife Conflict Specialist Jamie Jonkle was on the scene.

"We have quite a few lions in and around the Missoula valley right now," said Jonkle. "Most of them are down with the elk and deer herds for the winter, but this particular female with three juveniles prayed on a dog sadly. When we see that sort of behavior it throws up some red flags and means something is not quite right."

There were concerns about the Mountain Lion attack because it was near a bus stop used by children, but Jonkle says bear and mountain lion reports near bus stops are common and that this did not lead to the decision to euthanize the lions.

"If you look where most bus stops are for kids pick up sites, it drives me insane," Jonkle said. "It is right where two or three drainage junction together, which is always a good crossing area for all wildlife including lions. It is right where everyone stores their garbage cans too."

Jonkel said the dog was small and that Mountain lions can mistake small dogs for marmots. This attack was viewed to be especially problematic as the cold weather normally makes traditional mountain lion prey like elk and deer even easier to kill. Jonkle said that the fact that the lions were hunting dogs shows a degree of habituation that could lead to more dangerous interactions.

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