Chip in mountain lion collar breaksA mountain lion who has been tracked by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department since 2006 may not be able to be tracked so closely since part of his satellite collar has failed.
A mountain lion who has been tracked by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department since 2006 may not be able to be tracked so closely since part of his satellite collar has failed.
“We put it on in March and on Jan. 3 we stopped receiving locations from the collar,” said Brett Wiedmann, a big game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
The big cat known as M-12 calls the Little Missouri Grasslands home, however, the NDGF cannot specify an exact location.
Luckily, the collar has another device that can be used for tracking the 5- to 6-year-old male.
“We can still track that cat … he has a VHF (very high frequency) signal so we can still track from an airplane,” Wiedmann said. “We’re just not getting the satellite readings from the collar but we can still find and locate the cat, it just takes a lot more effort ... we can use telemetry equipment.”
While VHF sends out a ping, or frequency, it will now need to be located via a plane or on the ground using telemetry equipment, Wiedmann said.
In November 2006, the cat was accidentally snared in a bobcat trap and the opportunity to collar him presented itself, said Stephanie Tucker, a furbearer biologist for the NDGF.
When M-12’s collar was working properly, it uploaded his location to the NDGF three times a day, about every seven to eight hours, Tucker said.
Tucker said the collars have provided the NDGF with excellent location information on M-12.
“We have an idea where he’s hanging out … so we’ll check on him periodically now when time allows to make sure he’s still alive or dead,” Tucker said.
Wiedmann said M-12 has been mapped covering up to 15 miles per day.
“It’s pretty stunning the country he covers, I mean 15 miles as the crow flies through the Badlands is a lot of walking,” Wiedmann said.
Tucker said when the cat was still a transitional male, he had a territory with a 200-square-mile radius.
“He hangs out in the most rugged stuff there is,” Tucker said.
Now that he has settled down a bit, Tucker expects that territory to be about 100 to 150 square miles.
“If he is on a kill, he won’t move at all,” Wiedmann said. “He’ll stay within 100 yards of a kill. A big tom like him, he’s either moving looking for females and food or eating, that’s basically his life.”
The cat has been captured and collared three times and there are no present plans to replace his collar, Tucker said.
M-12 is the only lion being tracked by the NDGF.