Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks received a report of a bobcat in Great Falls on Sunday evening.
Several Great Falls residents spotted the bobcat going towards the city from Lower River Road.
Initially, some thought the animal was a mountain lion, but FWP says it was a bobcat.
FWP says that bobcats do not pose the same threat as a mountain lion would, and notes that there are also some domesticated bobcats in Montana as well.
FWP asks that if anyone sees a bobcat, to please let them know.
Here is what the FWP Field Guide says about bobcats:
The Bobcat is about twice the size of a domestic cat and is the smallest of our native cats. Individuals exhibit considerable variation in color. Base coloration can be light gray, yellowish-brown, buff, brown, or reddish-brown. Under-parts and inside of legs are white with black or dark brown spots. Facial fur is often streaked with black. Dorsal surfaces of the ears are black with a prominent white spot. Short tuft of black hair is present on the ears. This cat has a short tail, black only on the upper portion of the tip. Bobcat fur is short, dense, and soft. Retractile claws. Total length: 28 to 37 inches. Weight: 15 to 35 pounds.
(1st Report, 10:30 a.m.) Tiffany Dawn Naude’ shared video on Facebook on Sunday evening and wrote: "This is a pretty big mountain lion or bobcat, heading into town from Lower River Road. Didn’t want to get too close to figure out what, but definitely not a regular house cat! Called animal control/FWP and they’re headed out!"
Mike Johnson said that he and several other people also saw it by the river close to Flag Hill (Overlook Park).
We have tried contacting Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to get more information, but have not yet received a response about this incident. We will post an update if we do.
FWP says that if you encounter a mountain lion, the most important thing is to appear as large as possible, so the animal won’t think you’re its prey.
“What we recommend is that people stand up tall, be big,” said Greg Lemon of FWP. “If you’ve got little kids with you, pick the kids up. If you have a jacket on, open up your jacket.”
FWP says it’s rare for a mountain lion to attack. They say it’s best to give it a way to escape, so it can avoid a confrontation. If a lion does attack, Lemon said people should fight back aggressively, which can sometimes stop the animal.
Bear spray can also help deter a mountain lion.
“It affects its eyes, nose and mouth,” Lemon said. “Lions don’t like it any more than bears do.”
More information from FWP about what to do if you encounter a mountain lion:
- Do Not Approach a Lion: Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Do Not Run from a Lion: Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Do not turn your back. Make eye contact. If there are small children nearby, pick them up if possible so they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
- Do Not Crouch Down or Bend Over: A person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a 4-legged prey animal. When in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
- Appear Larger: Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
- Be vocal: Talk calmly and regularly.