The Missoula Valley is a crossroads for continental migrations of wildlife, and home to well over 200 species of wild mammals and birds. In winter, spotting scopes in Downtown Missoula are trained on Mount Jumbo, where protected winter habitat exists for approximately 70 Rocky Mountain Elk. There are also sightings of deer and the occasional mountain lion or bear in city limits.
Living with Wildlife
Missoula residents share the land, and often their backyards, with white-tailed deer, mule deer, black bear, mountain lions, skunks, raccoons, turkeys, woodpeckers and other wildlife. These “other residents” can become pests and, in some cases, dangerous. Bird seed attracts turkeys, which attract mountain lions, a potentially dangerous situation for homeowners and neighbors. Garbage left in exposed or unsecured containers attracts bears, skunks and raccoons. Wild animals often pay dearly for mistakes made by humans in residential areas.
Always enjoy wildlife from a safe distance. Do not approach wild animals, even if they seem perfectly docile, to take photographs or try to touch them. Severe injuries can occur, not only to you, but to the animal as well.
Because wildlife is prevalent in all parts of the Missoula valley, it is important to be aware and observant at all times while driving, biking, or walking around town.