A mountain lion was shot and killed in Montana’s Glacier National Park on Saturday after the animal attacked two dogs that belonged to a park employee. In a press release, park officials said that the attack occurred when the employee returned to her residence and her dogs immediately raced out of the car. The woman later found a cougar involved in a scuffle with her pets, and enlisted the help of other housing residents to try and separate the animals. One of the dogs managed to get out of the fight and return back to the residence.
“Other housing residents heard the dogs, lion and employee yelling, and ran to offer assistance,” wrote park spokesperson Denise Germann. “A shovel was briefly used unsuccessfully to separate the mountain lion and dog. The animals tumbled over an embankment near the Flathead River. Another housing resident arrived with bear spray and began throwing rocks and logs. The mountain lion pinned down the dog near the river’s edge.”
At this time a park ranger was called and arrived to assist. Concluding that the mountain lion presented not only a danger to the dog but also the gathered residents, the ranger ended the fight by fatally shooting the large cat. The dog was later rescued from the river and sent to a veterinarian.
It was not the first time that a cougar ventured into the employee housing area in Glacier National Park. Several weeks ago park officials had hazed another mountain lion after it strayed near homes and offices. As large predatory cats, mountain lions are especially dangerous to pets and small children, although they very rarely attack humans.
There is a significant population of cougars in the park, with some still situated near the Glacier headquarters area. In an encounter with a mountain lion, officials advise making loud noises while backing away. The safest thing to do while facing the predator is to avert your gaze, make yourself as large as possible, and talk calmly. In the event of an attack, fight back as aggressively as you can. Although they can be powerful critters, mountain lions generally do not want a fight.