Without Home in Zoo, Mountain Lion is Killed

By Beacon Staff

Officials for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks were unable to find a suitable home for a mountain lion captured in Columbia Falls over the weekend and were forced to euthanize the animal, according to a press release from regional FWP spokesman John Fraley. Here’s the full press release:

A 120-pound adult male mountain lion that was captured Saturday evening in Columbia Falls was euthanized Tuesday night after it became clear that no accredited zoo could receive the animal. A local veterinarian assisted in euthanizing the cat.

According to FWP Wildlife Manager Jim Williams, mountain lions in urban areas potentially pose a significant threat to public safety, so FWP policy prohibits relocating captured lions into occupied lion habitat. Lions caught in urban areas are normally killed for reasons of public safety. In this case, FWP personnel in Helena conducted a search to locate an accredited zoo but none could take the animal.

The mountain lion was captured over the weekend. On Saturday evening, April 17, the lion was reported in a tree within the city limits of Columbia Falls at the intersection of 5th Avenue West and 12th Street. FWP Wildlife Conflict Specialist Erik Wenum received a call on the incident at 5:20 p.m. and responded. When Wenum arrived, a crowd had gathered to see the lion, which was about 30 feet up a tree. The Columbia Falls Fire Department arrived with a lift bucket to assist. FWP officials used a tranquilizer dart to capture the animal and the Columbia Falls Fire Department brought the tranquilized lion to the ground.

Wenum then transported the lion to a holding facility. The lion probably entered Columbia Falls via the nearby Flathead River corridor, ending up high in a tree in the middle of the residential area.

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