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Mountain lion file photo.

A tagged mountain lion is shown in this file photo.

Dry conditions are bringing wild animals, including mountain lions, close to Butte.

Butte resident Hal Hicks told the Standard he saw a mountain lion while walking the Maud S Canyon trail June 21.

"It was a scary moment, let me tell you," Hicks said.

He said he walked to the top of Maud S Canyon trail and had started back down that Sunday morning. He was passing a little patch of timber.

"It was calm, a beautiful morning," Hicks said.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw what appeared, at first, to be a branch moving in the patch of trees. Since there was no wind, it caught his attention. He looked over, only to realize he was looking at a mountain lion's tail swishing.

Hicks estimated the lion was 10 feet from the trail and 20 feet up the tree.

"I always carry a pistol with me up there," Hicks said. "I grabbed it and walked backwards away from (the mountain lion). It was lying on the branch and watched me as I walked backwards."

Hicks said he told everyone he encountered on the trail about the mountain lion and everyone he met turned around.

"It certainly scared me," Hicks said. 

Game warden Regan Dean said he received a second report of a mountain lion sighting close to the World Museum of Mining at Montana Tech on the night of June 28.

Dean said he's also seen larger numbers of wild animals getting hit by vehicles in recent weeks. He attributed the wildlife sightings and vehicle-animal crashes to the dry weather. 

"The dry weather is bringing them out," Dean told the Standard. "They go down to the water ways."

Dean said if you encounter a mountain lion while walking on a trail, the important thing to remember is not to run.

"Make a lot of noise and back away from it. If they see something run, it means prey," Dean said.

If you have a dog with you, put the dog back on its leash, control your animal and back up with your pet, Dean said.

Dean said lions follow their prey and their prey is deer.

"They’re after deer," Dean said.

Seeing a mountain lion doesn't mean you'll be harmed. The important thing is not to panic.

"If you live in Butte, you’re going to be around wild animals," Dean said.

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Nat'l Resources / General Reporter

Environmental and natural resources reporter for the Montana Standard.

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