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Tipping off wardens, biologists key to capturing mountain lions

POLSON — With several mountain lion sightings around Polson this spring, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Wildlife Biologists and Fish and Game Departments said they take every call about a mountain lion sighting seriously. 

CSKT Wildlife Biologist Stacy Courville and Pablo “Chib” Espinoza, Chief Warden of Tribal Game and Fish, said one important thing members of the public can do is call tribal dispatch at 675-4700 at the same time they call 911.

The sooner they hear about someone spotting a mountain lion, the sooner Chief Espinoza can send a warden to the site. Chief Espinoza said his Fish and Game wardens call the tribal biologists first — “we work hand in hand with them.” Espinoza said he sends an officer to the area right away to get a visual, check for tracks and interview the witness. Then the game wardens work with the biologists to work up a plan to either call out the tracking dogs or set a trap. 

One reason a mountain lion might hang around Polson is the healthy mule deer population, which provides lots of food. Neither the CSKT biologists nor the CSKT game wardens have been able to confirm a mountain lion sighting this spring either by tracks or by a kill.

Getting to the scene in a timely manner is important because how long the scent will last depends on ground and weather conditions. 

Courville and Espinoza said they’ve used tracking dogs twice to try and follow the mountain lion. They also have two live lion traps set on Polson Hill and one in the Turtle Lake area.

Again, Courville, Espinoza and Germaine White, CSKT Natural Resources Department Information and Education Specialist, ask for the public’s help in dealing with mountain lion sightings. Please don't disturb the live traps and please call Tribal Dispatch at 675-4700, as well as 911 if you get a glimpse of a mountain lion.

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