FLORENCE - Parents and children who wait for the bus in rural Florence should take extra care after three mountain lions were seen near a school bus route.
The Florence-Carlton School District issued an alert on Wednesday, Jan. 9 after a parent saw three of the big cats near the Tie Chute bus turnaround.
The district says a parent submitted the photo of the mountain lion running across a field.
Florence is a few miles outside of Missoula, off Highway 93.
Some tips from the National Park Service on what to do if you see a mountain lion:
- Stay calm. Hold your ground or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright.
- Do not approach a lion. Never approach a mountain lion especially one that is feeding or with kittens. 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. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, 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. Biologists surmise mountain lions don't recognize standing humans as prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. If you're in mountain lion habitat, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
If the mountain lion moves in your direction or acts aggressively:
- Do all you can to appear intimidating.
- Attempt to appear larger by raising your arms and opening your jacket if you are wearing one. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.