Mountain Lion Meetings Scheduled


North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials will host three public meetings this month to discuss the status of the state's mountain lion population.

Results of a two-phase research project and biological findings from animals harvested over the last decade show the population has steadily declined over the past several years.

'We want to share what we've learned about managing mountain lions in North Dakota over the last 10 years,' said Jeb Williams, wildlife division chief. 'Considering what we knew about mountain lions in North Dakota prior to 2005, which was very little, the information gathered in the last decade is significant.'

Meeting dates and locations to discuss what state wildlife managers have learned are as follows:  Feb. 23, Game and Fish Department headquarters, 100 North Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck,  7 p.m.; Feb. 24, Fargo Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Avenue South,  7 p.m.; and  Feb. 29, Killdeer Cobblestone Hotel and Suites, 158 Rodeo Drive,  7 p.m.

North Dakota has had a mountain lion hunting season every year since 2005. The Game and Fish Department, in conjunction with researchers from South Dakota State University, launched the first part of a two-phase research project in 2011. Phase II is expected to be completed in 2017.

'We have made amazing headway in the last four years, and by the time Phase II is done we will have a really good handle on this population,' said Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist.