A mountain lion sighting Tuesday morning near a school bus stop in the Florence area has parents and school district officials on alert.
The Florence-Carlton School District Facebook page said officials received a report of three mountain lions near the area where the bus turns around on Tie Chute Road west of Florence.
Florence-Carlton Elementary Principal Chrissy Hulla said the school was first made aware of the lion sighting Tuesday after a parent sent a photograph of one of the lions to a teacher.
The parent said there were three lions, possibly a mother and two adolescents.
As soon as Hulla learned about the sighting Tuesday, she sent out a school reach message to parents to make them aware of the situation.
“Whenever we get reports like that, we want to get the word out so parents can know to use extra caution and be aware,” Hulla said.
“We live in Montana in amongst the bears and mountain lions,” she said. “It’s easy to become complacent.”
While mountain lion sightings near the valley floor aren’t unusual during the winter months, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are asking residents to let them know of any more lion sightings in the area.
“Right now, we’re asking folks for more detail on this sighting,” said FWP spokesperson Vivaca Crowser. “If people see the lion again, we would certainly want to know that too.”
“We get lots of these kinds of reports this time of year,” Crowser said. “Mountain lions are dropping down into their wintering areas, which is often where people live.”
Crowser said FWP normally wouldn’t respond to a single sighting of mountain lions that may be just passing through an area. On the other hand, if the lions remained in the area, Crowser said the department would want to know about that.
Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., people who have spotted a mountain lion in a residential area can call the FWP office in Missoula at 542-5500. After hours, the call should go to 1-800-TIP-MONT.
“It would be great if we could hear from people right away,” Crowser said. “If that happens, we can determine if we need to send someone out.
People interested in learning more how to live with wildlife can go to www.missoulabears.org.