A mountain biker near Whitefish had a close encounter with a mountain lion and her cubs last week, and even though no one was hurt, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Education and Program Manager Dylan Tabish reminds hikers and mountain bikers to be aware of wildlife confrontations.

“We have a brief encounter between a mountain biker and a family of mountain lions on a forested trail system just north of Whitefish,” said Tabish. “There was not an attack, but in a situation like this it’s good to remind people to be aware of wildlife encounters and some safety tips to help them avoid a conflict.”

Tabish began with what to do in case an encounter with a mountain lion or even a bear.

“Don’t approach a mountain lion,” he said. “But, you never want to run from a mountain lion, either. If you’re on a bike and you pedal away it can trigger the chase instinct. The same goes for bears. With mountain lions you want to appear larger and you want to vocal, make a lot of noise to make it realize it doesn’t want to encounter you and it instead wants to move on.”

Tabish said at this time of year mountain lions and bears may be accompanied by their young, which can make for a dangerous encounter.

“For bears, you never want to get between a sow and its cubs because that can trigger a defensive response,” he said. That’s why it’s so important to know where they are and how you can back out of the area in a calm and safe manner.”

Tabish said all hikers and mountain bikers should be equipped with bear spray and know how to use it.

“Whether it’s a bear of a mountain lion, they don’t like bear spray, so always make sure you and your party are carrying bear spray,” he said. “Also, if you have an encounter, contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to let them know where the encounter occurred and what happened, so they can investigate the area.

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