MISSOULA- Wildlife experts say kids who walk to school in the Rattlesnake, the South Hills, and some areas of Pattee Canyon should be on the lookout for bears and mountain lions.
Bears and mountain lions are very active right now, and that is why Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Missoula County Public Schools are partnering together to inform parents about keeping your school-aged children safe while walking, biking, or making their way to school.
FWP’s information and education manager Vivica Crowser said there hasn't been a specific incident this season, but it's always important to be prepared.
"Traveling in groups is great, so if you can accompany them as a parent if you feel like that makes everybody feel better," Crowser said. "Sometimes that isn't realistic and so just making sure your child is with others in the neighborhood, kind of making some noise."
“If they were to ever have an encounter with a mountain lion or bear you'd want to go through those particular safety tips. It’s very uncommon but possible here where we live,” she added.
FWP said bears and lions don't necessarily want to be around humans, it's the attractants that they look for. So it's crucial to make sure your garbage is kept closed and safe, as well as those bird feeders down, and fruit picked up.
Officials do encourage parents to have those important conversations with their children about what to do if they encounter a bear or mountain lion on the way to school.
If parents or the public want to stay informed on wildlife sightings; check out the Missoula Bears page on Facebook.
If children or parents do see wildlife you are asked to report it to your school secretary or principal.