Man harvests final cat for quotaWestern North Dakota’s mountain lion harvesting season closed Dec. 11 after a hunter in McKenzie County took the eighth and final cat allowed in the area.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
Western North Dakota’s mountain lion harvesting season closed Dec. 11 after a hunter in McKenzie County took the eighth and final cat allowed in the area.
Armed with a rifle, Bob Christophersen of Grassy Butte harvested the cat about 18 miles west of Grassy Butte.
Dogs belonging to Christophersen’s son had run the cat up a tree.
“He was there 45 minutes to an hour when I got there,” Christophersen said. “The cat bailed out of the tree and went another 120 to 150 yards farther and went up another tree.”
The cat was an 80-pound female which Christophersen estimates to be about 2 years old.
Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, said last year seven cats were harvested by the end of November.
“McKenzie County is the hot spot,” Tucker said. “That’s just where the best mountain lion habitat is at. That’s historically where most mountain lion reports and sightings and tracks are found, so guys just head that direction right away.”
With a limit of eight this side of the state, not many have the chance to experience hunting one of the big cats firsthand.
“It’s pretty exciting to see them up in a tree,” Christophersen said. “You’re not very far from them. When you shoot it, you’re probably 15 to 20 yards away. I’ve seen quite a few tracks, but I haven’t seen too many cats.”
Christophersen plans to have a rug made out of the cat’s fur.
Hunting the big cats in southwest North Dakota falls under NDGF’s predetermined allotments in zone one.
State and federal highways along with Montana and South Dakota border zone one.
The point where the boundary crosses Lake Sakakawea is a straight line from where U.S. Highway 1804 lies directly across from U.S. Highway 8, according to the NDGF Web site.
Quotas for zone one do not include cats taken by United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, NDGF, private landowners defending livestock, those harvested out of human safety concerns, road-killed animals, those harvested by traps or cable devices and those taken on Native American lands, according to the NDGF Web site.
Last year’s zone one mountain lion harvest did not close until March, something Tucker attributes to a harsh winter.
“It was so cold and the wind blew so much and when the wind blows it blows the tracks over, then the dogs can’t smell the scent,” Christophersen said. “It was a terrible year.”
The remainder of the state is considered zone two, where there is no quota for big-cat harvest.
Zone two remains open until March 31 and does not have a quota as it is not the type of habitat the NDGF would expect a breeding population of mountain lions to be established, Tucker said.
“The mountain lions we typically find in zone two are dispersing individuals that are dispersing out of zone one,” Tucker said.
Other than a mountain lion that was removed from Bismarck, Tucker said none have been harvested in zone two.
Despite reported mountain lion sightings in the area in recent months, Tucker said the number of mountain lion reports have decreased this year in comparison to last year.
“That’s probably more of a result of people just getting used to the idea of mountain lions in North Dakota,” Tucker said.