Missoula authorities received a report of a mountain lion in the South Easy Street neighborhood early Monday morning.

Information and Education Manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Vivaca Crowser, said the extremely hot weather and lack of moisture is bringing predators to where the game is most plentiful, local riverbanks, which can often be near housing developments.

"Even though we're still fairly early in the summer, all wildlife are looking for places to cool off, and so our sightings of mountain lions and bears looking for those cool river-bottom areas usually increase this time of year," Crowser said. "You also see a lot more deer. The deer that come and hangout in our yards to eat the grass and landscaping, that's also happening a lot earlier this year."

Crowser said to be aware that predators are going to be in those areas before you plan your walk or hike, and most importantly, don't go alone.

"Be aware, and travel in groups," she said. "And, if you're by yourself in these areas, make some noise to let the wildlife know you're there. If you spot a bear or a lion, the best thing to do is just to stop and give it space, and in most cases, that's all you'll need to do. If you have a bear or a lion approach, just continue talking in a loud voice and that usually deters any sort of an encounter."

Crowser urges western Montana residents to log onto Missoula Bears dot org, to file a bear or mountain lion sighting, or, if the predator is hanging around a residence or school, to call 1-800-TIP-MONT for a more immediate response.

She also said to further protect property from predators, do not place garbage, bird seed or pet food out where bears or lions can have access to it.

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