Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Historically, mountain lions (Puma concolor) once ranged over most of North Dakota, although they were considered scarce except in the Badlands region (Bailey 1926).................. Records indicate mountain lions disappeared from North Dakota in the early-1900s (Bailey et al. [1914] with the last confirmed record of a mountain lion being harvested in 1902 along the Missouri River south of Williston (Bailey 1926)..........Since 2011, research has shown mountain lions are breeding only in the northern portion of the Badlands............And with.females not reaching reproductive maturity until they are 3 years old and then only giving birth to two or three kittens every 18 months,.the 21 Puma hunting quota currently in place in North Dakota is shrinking an already tenuous population..........Allowing "Hounding" during the hunting season is quickening the kill rate........The first year of the hunting season (2005-06), seven mountains were killed................ The next four seasons, 11-12 cats were killed, until the 2010-11 season when 22 were killed......................... The high came in 2011-12, when 31 cats were taken........................ The last two seasons there have been 23 and 20 mountain lions killed, respectively........If there are at most 60 Pumas living in North Dakota, should this population be hunted in any way?.............I believe North Dakota Wildlife Officials are at the very least "out of touch with their professional training" and at the worst criminal in espousing the following Puma Management philosophy-----"One of the most effective methods of gathering data — particularly when dealing with a species new to certain areas — is to open a season on them".............. "It's kind of a reactive way to manage"................ "Animals that have been hunted and harvested provide solid information like feeding habits and genetic background"

Study indicates ND 

mountain lion

 population declining;

 2014 hunting 

season opened Friday

BISMARCK, North Dakota — A multi-year study tracking
North Dakota's mountain lion population indicates the
 number of big cats is trending downward. In August
 2011, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, in conjunction with South Dakota State University,
 embarked on a $218,000 study funded by
Pittman-Robertson excise tax money.

Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist for the Game
 and Fish Department, said the first phase of the
 study is in the books and a new three-year
 follow-up study will be launched this fall.
North Dakota is entering its 10th year of
managed mountain lion hunting. This year's
season opened Friday.

Tucker said one of the most effective methods
 of gathering data — particularly when dealing
with a species new to certain areas — is to
open a season on them. "It's kind of a reactive
way to manage," she told The Bismarck Tribune ( ). Animals that have
 been hunted and harvested provide solid
information like feeding habits and genetic

For the past decade or longer, mountain
lions have been breeding in the state
but also have been immigrating from
South Dakota's Black Hills.Data from
the study also has indicated at least
two male lions have moved in from
eastern Montana.

The first phase of the study tracked
 22 mountain lions that were captured
 and either fitted with radio collars or
 ear tags.
Tucker said it focused on studying
survival rates, food habits and home
 range and movement patterns
compared to mountain lions in other
areas of North America.

Of the 22 cats captured, seven males
and seven females were fitted with radio
collars and seven males and one female
were ear-tagged. Tucker said 18 of the
 cats that were captured for the study
are confirmed dead by hunters or other
means and the fate of the remaining
four is not known.

The first year of the hunting season
 (2005-06), seven mountains were killed.
 The next four seasons, 11-12 cats were
 killed, until the 2010-11 season when
22 were killed. The high came in 2011-12,
 when 31 cats were taken. The last two
 seasons, there have been 23 and 20
 mountain lions killed, respectively.
Tucker said those numbers reflect all
forms of mortality, whether from hunters,
road kill or protection of property.

Tucker said the first split season was three
years ago, when seven animals were held back
 from the Zone 1 season quota for those hunting
 with hounds.The state is divided into two
mountain lion zones. Zone 1 is the Badlands
 area and Zone 2 is remainder of the state.
The Zone 1 season closes Nov. 23 or when
the 14-cat quota is reached, leaving the
remaining seven in the quota for hound
 hunters, although any hunters can hunt them.
There is no quota for Zone 2.

Tucker said data shows that until 2011, the
 mountain lion population in Zone 1 was
increasing. But that has changed, she said.
We've been declining the last three years,"
 she said. Part of that has had to do with
the success of those hunting with hounds.
"Hound hunters are still having a lot of
success," she said. "We know our harvest
 season is having an impact."Conversely,
 Tucker said, those hunting without dogs
 are having less success than in previous years.

Tucker said data from the first three years
of the study indicates the survival rate of
the North Dakota mountain lion population
is significantly lower than other states. She
 said lions here showed a survival rate of 42
 percent for two years following their capture
and tagging. That compares to survival rates
 of 59 percent in the Pacific Northwest, 64-74
 percent in Utah and 67-97 percent in Canada
 where similar studies have been conducted.
At least part of that may be attributed to the
 fact that mountain lions' primary range in
North Dakota, the Badlands, is a relatively
small and closed system.Tucker said it
 also suggests the state's population is
lower than originally thought.

As far as feeding habits, lions rely mainly
 on deer — mulies and white tails — for
 most of their diet.Porcupines and beaver,
 however, also play a significant role in
the makeup of mountain lion diets.John
 Jenks, the principal investigator at SDSU,
said that is not a big surprise because
lions are known to scavenge whatever
food is readily available."Porcupines are
classic prey for mountain lions in South
Dakota," he said.Jenks said the lions in
 the Black Hills turned to stalking deer
for food after they had thinned out the
porcupine numbers. And, with larger prey,
 Jenks said, the success rate for kills is
 not all that high due to the method in
which they hunt.Mountain lions prefer to
ambush their prey from a high vantage
 point to get a running start.He said the
 scavenge rate for North Dakota lions in
 the study was around 7 percent of their
diet, on par with lions in other states.
He said interestingly, mountain lions
here don't tend to hunt larger animals
like bighorn sheep or elk. Jenks said
 lions are solitary hunters and it may
 be they haven't yet figured out how
to kill larger prey.

He added that based on a small
 population sample of lions studies
,predation on livestock appeared to
be minimal.
Jenks said there has been some
evidence of lions feeding on livestock,
 but it's not known if the lions killed or
 scavenged the carcasses. He said there
 also has been evidence of lions killing
coyotes and of injuries to the cats
themselves, likely from territorial
disputes between males.

He said the second phase of the study will
 focus more on habitat selection and validate
population data and home range and survival
 rates from the first study.Tucker said male
 lions in the Badlands have been shown to
have a home range twice that of females —
 about 89 square miles compared to 42 —
which is on the lower end of scale in
 comparison to other states.

Jenks said the immigration of two males
 from the Charles M. Russell National
Wildlife Refuge near Fort Peck, Montana,
 is a positive for Badlands population —
at least from a genetic diversity standpoint.
 The first phase of the study has shown
mountain lions are breeding only in the
 northern portion of the Badlands.
Tucker said the next three years of the
study will include an SDSU graduate
student, the second student working
on a master's degree, on the ground
 in North Dakota.She said the goal is
to capture and track more lions to add
to the data from the first three years.
"We'd love to get another 22 cats,
but we'll take what we can get,"
Tucker said.

As far as any conclusive findings
early on, Tucker said the study may
 indicate North Dakota's mountain
lion population may never be able
to support a hunting season with a higher

No comments: