The mountain lion shot south of Bismarck Friday appears to have been a healthy 2- to 3-year-old female, according to an examination by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Jeb Williams, assistant wildlife chief for the Game and Fish Department, said Tom Doering shot the lion during the opening afternoon of the deer gun season on the Apple Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Doering was in a tree stand hunting with a friend who was also in a tree strand. Other hunters on the ground in the area apparently flushed the cat under Doering's stand.
The 85-pound female had not been bred. Doering was able to take the animal home later in the day after the animal was examined, Williams said.
It was the first mountain lion killed in Zone 2 this year. North Dakota’s mountain lion season, which opened Aug. 30, is divided into two zones.
Zone 1 is basically the Badlands area of western North Dakota and there is a quota of 21 animals.
Zone 1 has a split season, closing for hunters when 14 cats are killed, leaving the seven remaining animals for those who hunt with hounds.
The limit is one per hunter and the season runs through March 31, or until the quota is reached. The fourth mountain lion of the season in Zone 1 was killed Friday, Williams said.
In Zone 2, which encompasses the rest of North Dakota, there is a one cat per hunter limit but no quota.
Williams said it’s not uncommon for mountain lions to settle near populated areas. It’s the third mountain lion reported killed in and around Bismarck in recent years.
In 2009, the day after Thanksgiving, authorities shot and killed a mountain lion that had taken up temporary residence in north Bismarck near the former Home Depot location.
In December of 2009, a 15-year-old rural Bismarck girl killed a lion that had been treed by hounds after it was spotted within 10 yards of a house south of Bismarck.
A mountain lion sighting also was reported on the multi-use trail near the Pebble Creek Golf Course off North 19th Street in 2010, but officials were unable to confirm that report.
Williams said in most cases it’s young males that wander into new territories when young animals are dispersed from their families.
Often times, he said they will follow natural drainages like rivers or creeks.
“The higher percentage are males,” he said, “but it’s not unusual for females to be dispersed.”
He said there is no way to tell for sure if the mountain lion shot Friday was the same one that kept the Prairie Rose Elementary School students indoors two days last week, but in all likelihood it is.
Williams said part of the on-going data collection will be a DNA test in an effort to determine if the cat roamed into the area from the Badlands or possibly from the Black Hills of South Dakota.