Gene Crowe has lived on his property in Willow Creek southwest of Three Forks since 1964. Last week, he found something lurking in his backyard that he had never seen before - a mountain lion.
Crowe was doing yard work last week when he noticed two dead deer under a tree in his backyard, covered in debris.
That is when he decided to install cameras to see what kind of animal was prowling around.
Crowe said catching a large mountain lion on camera just feet from his house has made him extra cautious while outside: "Every time I go outside here I find myself looking up in the trees."
Looking at the tree, you can see distinct claw marks from the lion.
"We’re pretty concerned because this is way too close to where people are,” said Crowe as he pointed toward his neighbor’s house with a trampoline in the yard. “There’s little kids and dogs around."
Crowe said he is worried about the livestock, but more so about his neighbors. He said they are aware of the mountain lion; one neighbor was even able to hear it growling at night.
"He had it on his phone and I listened to it,” said Crowe. “It was definitely a growl."
James Jonkel with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, shared tips about how to prevent mountain lions from coming too close to your home - and what to do if you come face to face with one.
“You don't want to have a salt lick in your backyard, because you'll be creating all these game trail systems,” said Jonkel. “It'll be mountain lions, coyotes, and bears that will follow those game trails.”
He also said to carry bear spray: "It works great on lions,” said Jonkel. “Just act extremely aggressive. Do a lot of yelling and screaming and quite often they'll just bolt or run up a tree.”
Jonkel says although mountain lion attacks on humans are rare, you should always be cautious.
Crowe agrees. He said it's always a smart idea to set up cameras at your house.
“I’m going to put up more cameras because you’d be surprised at what comes walking through your yard at night,” said Crowe.
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