Mountain lion trapped for study in Teddy Roosevelt National Park dies
The first mountain lion trapped at Theodore Roosevelt National Park recently as part of a joint study died before she could be collared, officials said.
"That's the unfortunate nature of trying to collect research information for the long-term good of the animal," said Jeb Williams, North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife division assistant chief.
The lion is believed to have had a cub, he said Tuesday.
"The individual who was doing our lion study had a trail (camera) picture the day before of a mountain lion with a younger cat with it," he said.
NDGF furbearer biologist Stephanie Tucker estimated the lion to be 9 years old and the cub to be 5 to 6 months old.
A foot snare was set in TRNP North Unit on Nov. 12 and when it was checked the following morning, the deceased mountain lion was found, Williams said.
"It had kind of wrapped itself around a tree limb," he said.
However, an examination of the body indicated the likely cause of death is linked to lesions on its heart, indicating a possible parasite.
Officials will not try to locate the cub, Williams said.
"While it appeared to be a younger cat we also felt that the cat had a good chance of surviving on its own," he added.
However, Amy Rodriguez, outreach coordinator for the Mountain Lion Foundation, a national organization headquartered in California, disagrees.
"Kittens over a year old could survive without their mother, but they still haven't learned how to properly hunt and take down deer and stay away from people," she said. "Anything younger than a year, the odds are really slim that it's going to survive."
Rodriguez said cubs stay with their mothers for about two years. She is disappointed nobody is searching for orphaned cub, but Rodriguez said she and the foundation support studying the animals. They do not support hunting them.
This is the first year of the study of mountain lions in the Badlands, which is being handled by NDGF, the National Park Service and South Dakota State University, Williams said.
There was a brief effort in the spring, but the study officially began in October and will continue into spring, Williams said. The plan is to radio collar about 25 cats.
"We're trying to learn more about home ranges and mountain lions, food habits and things like that," Williams said, adding it will help better gauge hunting seasons.
Methods of the study will be examined in light of the mountain lion death and adjusted if necessary, he said.