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ND lowers mountain lion harvest limit

BISMARCK--North Dakota wildlife officials are lowering the number of mountain lions that can be harvested this fall to help stabilize the population that has been slowly declining in recent years.

Mountain Lion prowling in winter. (iStock Photo)
Mountain Lion prowling in winter. (iStock Photo)

BISMARCK-North Dakota wildlife officials are lowering the number of mountain lions that can be harvested this fall to help stabilize the population that has been slowly declining in recent years.

The overall harvest limit on mountain lions is being reduced from 21 to 15, which will lower the early season limit from 14 to eight. The late-season limit will be seven total lions, or three female lions, whichever comes first. If the early season ends before the season limit is reached, the season could reopen if the late season limit is reached prior to March 25.

Jeb Williams, the wildlife division chief of the North Dakota Department of Game and Fish, said it appears that the mountain lion population is declining, in part due to hunting, so lowering the number of mountain lions that can be collected is one way of protecting the population.

Williams said the early season limit has previously been 14, but the most amount of lions they have harvested since changing that limit was six.

"It's essentially harvest and the hunting season that we believe is that why we aren't harvesting as many mountain lions as we did as we did back in 2011," he said. "... There's certainly a trend going on that there that doesn't appear there's as many lions on the landscape as what there was five or six years ago."

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If the late season quota is not met, there will no other opportunity to hunt the rest of the lions. Extra time will also not be added if all eight lions are harvested during the early season.

Williams said the late season quota is typically met in about a month, mostly because hunters are allowed to use dogs to help them hunt the mountain lions then.

"There were some frustrations with that late season closing so quickly because dogs were allowed to be used," he said. "And there were a lot of people who did want to pursue the later season mountain lion opportunity, but they didn't have dogs and so this is an option that it gives them. But it is conditional."

The majority of mountain lions harvested in North Dakota are taken in Zone 1, which encompasses parts of Bowman, Billings, Dunn, Slope, McLean, Mountrail and Williams counties, and all of Golden Valley and McKenzie counties.

Williams said the department takes a long look at all its wildlife populations because they know populations can sometimes fluctuate and what may be a good number for a given animal one year could quickly change the next.

He said ultimately they are trying to find middle ground between those who want to hunt the lions and those who don't necessarily agree with it.

"We know that there are people in the state who would like to have zero mountain lions and we know there are some people who are not appreciative of having a hunting season on them," Williams said. "It's just a matter of trying to find a balance somewhere in the middle."

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A file photo of a mountain lion. Stock photo from Morguefile.com.
A file photo of a mountain lion. Stock photo from Morguefile.com.

Related Topics: HUNTINGBADLANDS
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