Nov 3, 2010 3:49 PM by Robin O'Day (Missoula)

Mountain lion startles Missoula kids at bus stop

A dozen Missoula students couldn't get on the school bus fast enough Wednesday morning as a mountain lion lingered 200 feet away from their bus stop.

Beach Transportation General Manager Robert Mitchell says the school bus driver was making his initial pick ups on Upper Miller Creek when his students pointed out the mountain lion.

The animal was lurking approximately 200 feet away from the Lost Mine Loop bus stop, so the driver had the students pile into the bus and then he contacted Mitchell.

The general manager then called 911 and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials were alerted to the incident.

The parents of the students were made aware of the situation and they are being encouraged to be at the bus stop Wednesday afternoon when children are dropped off from school just after 4 p.m.

Mitchell says the students attend Chief Charlo and Meadow Hill School. He added that this isn't the first time his crew has spotted dangerous animals along their rural loop.

A few years ago Mitchell spotted a wolf in the middle of the afternoon in the Miller Creek area.