Bear and Mountain Lion Safety

Rattlesnake Elementary School is located in an area with abundant wildlife, including black bears and mountain lions. It is very important to do your part to keep your children safe, as well as prevent wildlife from becoming a risk to themselves and others.

Safety at the bus stop and while walking or biking to school:

  • It is strongly recommended that parents or adults accompany young students to and from bus stops and accompany students that bike or walk to school. This is especially important at times when bears and mountain lions are active in the neighborhoods.
    • Bears are active from approximately March – November. They are particularly active in the Rattlesnake in early spring, and then again from late August through mid October when domestic fruit trees (like apples) are ripe.
    • Mountain lions are active throughout the year. They seem to be most often sighted in the valleys when there is heavy snow (January-March) as well as when the deer have newborn fawns (roughly in May).
  • Report non-emergency sightings of bears or lions on bus routes or walk to school routes to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at (406) 542-5500. Report emergencies directly to 911.

School Precautions:

  • If a bear or lion is reported in the vicinity of a bus stop, or the immediate area around the school (including Pineview Park), a notification may be issued via text and email to all parents. Please keep your email and phone number current so that you receive these alerts.
  • The dumpsters behind Rattlesnake School are enclosed in a bear-resistant metal structure, and all trash cans at Pineview Park are bear-resistant. If you see trash overflowing or not stored in a bear-resistant manner, please report this to the school or the parks department according to where the problem is occurring. Securing garbage from bears minimizes the likelihood that bears will be attracted to, and stay in the vicinity of, the school and park grounds.

Neighborhood Responsibilities:

  • It is illegal to leave garbage out where bears can access it within the Missoula Bear Buffer zone (which includes all of the Rattlesnake valley). Bring in bird feeders when bears are active – a good rule of thumb is to take them down when Daylight Savings starts. Pick fruit trees as soon as they ripen. Protect chickens with an electric fence to deter bears from both the chickens themselves, and the chicken feed. Bears that find attractants like garbage, apples, chickens, and birdseed can become acclimated to people, presenting a safety risk to you and your children. Acclimated bears behave in ways that can lead to the bears being euthanized by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks because they are deemed a public safety concern.
  • Do not feed deer, or leave out salt for deer. It is illegal to provide supplemental feed to game animals in Montana per Montana Code 87-2-216. Feeding deer can bring mountain lions closer to houses and bus stops.
  • By taking precautions to prevent bears, lions, and other wildlife from becoming habituated and food-conditioned we make our neighborhoods safer for both people and wildlife.
  • For more information, visit or friend Missoula Bears on Facebook.

black bear looking over a fence