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Mountain lion attack on dog at Mount Baldy raises concerns among hikers

What was supposed to be a relaxing day on the trail turned devastating for Cecilia McAfee when her dog Indy was taken by a mountain lion. Indy was never found.
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Posted at 12:18 PM, May 22, 2024

BOZEMAN — On May 15, 2024, a regular trail run for a woman quickly turned into a nightmare when her dog was attacked and dragged away by a mountain lion just five miles from the trailhead at Mount Baldy.

Dave and Wendy Pierce have been hiking in the Bozeman area together for more than 30 years.

“It did make us think about being out and about on trails with our dogs,” said Wendy.

“Since 1993,” said Dave. "We hike in the spring, we hike in the winter, and we hike in the fall.”

They told me they’d never seen a mountain lion while hitting the trails with their furry friends: “But we’re always thinking about them,” said Dave.

Especially after hearing about another woman’s scary encounter at Mount Baldy.

What was supposed to be a relaxing day on the trail turned devastating for 24-year-old Cecilia McAfee when her dog Indy suddenly began yelping.

Cecilia ran toward the noise where she saw the mountain lion running down a hill dragging Indy away.

Cecilia began searching for Indy and calling out to her, hoping the mountain lion may have given up the fight, but unfortunately, Indy was never found.

McAfee reported the incident to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP).

FWP spokesperson Morgan Jacobsen says these types of encounters are fairly rare.

“But we are in mountain lion country,” said Jacobsen. “Mountain lions are predators and they make their living by stalking and capturing prey.”

That’s why Jacobsen says people should take precautions and be prepared for these types of encounters.

He recommends traveling in groups, making noise, carrying and knowing how to use bear spray, and always keeping your dog close to you or on a leash.

“Just be smart—be listening and looking for signs,” said Wendy. “We’re mindful, but not wary. It’s not going to stop us from going hiking.”