Two Killdeer area ranchers got an unexpected surprise last week while bottle feeding a calf.
John Dolezal was in his barn about 6:30 last Friday evening tending to a calf.
Dolezal said he left the barn and his son, Brent, returned about 20 minutes later to put down some straw for a cow and calf pair and noticed a mountain lion bedded down about 20 feet from him.
The younger Dolezal retrieved a rifle from his pickup and shot the animal which was still lying in the hay when he returned.
Game warden Bill Schaller said they called him after the incident and the lion, a 118-pound sub-adult male, was taken to Dickinson for examination and returned to the Dolezals.
Their ranch is about five miles northwest of Killdeer.
Schaller said except for some frostbite to an ear and its tail, “It was a very healthy animal.”
Mountain lions normally shy away from humans but this is the third case recently in North Dakota where a mountain lion was shot and killed inside a building.
In January a Watford City rancher shot and killed a female mountain lion and three kittens that were feeding on a deer inside of a storage building.
In December, a female lion was shot and killed in a machine shed near Robinson, the first time one was shot outside of the Badlands zone since 2006.
That mountain lion was young female that was emaciated from being malnourished, wildlife officials said.
Dolezal said he didn’t notice the cat while he was bottle feeding the calf and while he can’t say for certain, he is “pretty sure” it was in the barn when he was earlier.
“It was pretty unexpected,” Dolezal said.
Schaller said no citations were issued and the ranchers where within their rights to protect their livestock.
(Reach reporter Brian Gehring 250-8254 or email@example.com.)