When Missoula and western Montana residents call Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to report a mountain lion sighting, Bob Wiesner and Spinner hit the trail to find them.

Wiesner is a wildlife specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. When Missoula County Public Schools reported three mountain lions near Cold Springs School on Sunday night, Wiesner didn't get the message until the next day.

"Unfortunately, I didn't get the message until Monday morning, so I went to that area so if the lions resurfaced I would be there with the dogs and could hopefully tree the lions, and we would do a lethal removal," Wiesner said. "We don't translocate lions because it simply doesn't work that well so we actually euthanize the lions that come near homes in the Missoula area. That happens about three times a year, and that's what we're dealing with here."

Photo by Bob Wiesner

Wiesner said his dogs are specially bred and trained to hunt mountain lions.

"I have registered English hounds and that's their job," Wiesner said. "They're professionals at catching lions and bears. Spinner is very experienced, he's nine years old and he's hunted and caught over 100 mountain lions, while the other dog is three years old and he's kind of an apprentice at this point. and he's caught 13 lions so far."

Photo by Bob Wiesner

Wiesner offers expert advice on how to behave when confronted by a mountain lion.

"The bottom line is, distance is your friend," Wiesner said. "They're a curious animal, they're not necessarily stalking you, but they are sizing you up. To keep from being confused as a prey species, you want to confront the lion and make direct eye contact with it. Show as large as presence as you can to that lion. If there are children with you, get them off of the ground. No running or screaming, You must be as calm as you can possibly be. Talk loudly and be aggressive to the lion, but don't approach it. A good idea is to throw sticks or stones at the lion to show your aggression. Back up slowly from the lion, don't stoop down, don't run, and never turn your back, and, there's safety in numbers. One more thing..bear spray also works very well against mountain lions."

Wildlife Specialist Bob Wiesner