By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Two women have reported seeing a mountain lion near the water tower on the east side of Havre.
It's the second possible sighting of a mountain lion in town in four months.
The Rev. Catherine Card said she saw one behind her house on the 800 block of Seventh Street three weeks ago. Four months ago, residents on Saddle Butte Drive reported seeing a mountain lion near their home.
Card said she and a friend were pulling into Card's driveway one afternoon when the two saw the animal on a hill facing the back of Card's home.
At first Card thought it was a feral cat, but the animal she was looking at was much larger than a cat, she said. It was tawny colored, long, with a long thick tail.
Card went to her porch overlooking the hill and called out to the animal.
"I was trying to get a better look at it and see what it would do," Card said. "It looked at me and then it walked on and walked over the hill."
Card said the animal twitched its tail before it walked away.
She said she was somewhat concerned for her safety and that of her dogs, but the animal seemed unconcerned. "It seemed like maybe it was used to wandering in populated areas," Card said. "If I had been a mountain lion not used to being around people, I would have taken off."
Card reported the sighting to police.
"It's awesome to see something like that in your back yard. I just was fascinated by it," she said.
The Rev. Vicki Maly, a pastor at American Lutheran Church in Chinook, was visiting Card that afternoon and was the first to see the animal.
"I looked up at the hill and saw this cat-like creature and it blended right into the hill," she said. "I thought, at first, 'Is that just a huge cat on steroids?' and then I thought, 'This has got to be bigger.'"
Maly said she was only able to watch the cat for 10 or 15 seconds before it walked out of sight, but she thinks it was a mountain lion, even after learning that one of Card's neighbors owns a large dog.
"It had a catlike shape and a catlike way of walking," she said.
Afterward, "I was just wondering if I saw what I really saw," she said.
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Shane Reno said today his office has not had any reports of mountain lion sightings in town, though it did receive an inquiry 10 days ago from a resident near the Beaver Creek Golf Course who was looking for an explanation for his horses' peculiar behavior.
As to a sighting in town: "It could be. They're curious critters," Reno said.
Mountain lions generally follow a circuit through their territory, Reno said, but they by no means stick to it.
"They're like people, they all are different," he said. "They can have upward of a 100-mile path or they can live in a smaller area."