A hunter killed a female mountain lion believed to weigh close to 100 pounds about a mile northwest of Hillsboro Tuesday.
Jim Job, an outreach biologist with North Dakota Game & Fish in Grand Forks, confirmed the cougar’s death Wednesday.
“We usually get at least one report of a mountain lion every year on the eastern side of the state,” Job said.
“It doesn’t always get hunted but with the way the rumor mill is, as soon as one is seen there’s someone out pursuing it,” he said. “It is a rare species on this side of the state.”
Dean Gadberry, who lives between Hillsboro and Mayville, was contacted around noon Tuesday by a pair of hunters from the Fargo area who requested permission to hunt on his land near his parents’ former home along Interstate 29 north of Hillsboro.
The men had spotted a mountain lion on a trail cam and had tracking dogs to assist in the pursuit of the animal, said Gadberry.
Gadberry said he believes the female mountain lion may not be alone in eastern Traill County. He’s heard multiple reports from friends in recent months of cougar sightings near Clifford, Portland and east of Mayville.
“That tells me there are more of them than people are aware of,” Gadberry said. “The one they shot was female so there’s probably some cubs running around. There has to be more than one out there.”
Although mountain lions are more commonly found in western North Dakota, sightings in North Dakota occur from time to time, Job said.
The Grand Forks Herald reported Dec. 8 that a mountain lion was seen on a trail cam in mid-November near Devils Lake, N.D.
Mountain lion early season in Zone 1 in western North Dakota closed Nov. 26 with six cats taken by hunters.
Hunters in Zone 2, which includes eastern North Dakota, don’t have a harvest limit due to the scarcity of cats in the region.
“When (mountain lions) are on this side of the state they are more of a nuisance because they’re not in their natural habitat,” Job said.
He said it doesn’t appear any laws were broken in Wednesday’s shooting near Hillsboro.
It’s his understanding the cat was being sent to a taxidermist and then to North Dakota Game & Fish for testing.
“That’s standard procedure once one is killed,” Job said. “They have so many hours to report it and then Game & Fish gets involved to make sure it was a legal kill.”
Gadberry said he’s been asked why he allowed the hunters on his land. He said some people don’t realize the dangers mountain lions pose to livestock and rural families.
“With an animal that size, unless you have a knife or a gun or a pistol at your immediate grasp, they could catch you off guard and at that point you’re in trouble,” he said.