Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cougar range map expanded to include North Dakota Badlands

Cougar Network News, August 18, 2006

The Cougar Network announced today that it has modified its "Big Picture" map of known cougar range to include the Badlands region of North Dakota. This decision was made after a careful review of the available data and consultations with biologists from the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.

In 2005, the North Dakota legislature directed the NDG&FD to assess the status of mountain lions (Puma concolor) in North Dakota.

During the past year, the Department:

1) reviewed reported sightings of lions from the recent past (2001-2005),
2) surveyed North Dakota hunters for additional sighting information,
3) mapped suitable lion habitat throughout the state,
4) initiated an experimental mountain lion season with a quota of five animals.

Data from verified sighting reports and the experimental season confirmed several mountain lions in the Badlands area, including adult males as well as females with kittens. This data confirms that lions have recolonized the area as a resident, breeding species.

Although most of North Dakota was deemed unsuitable for mountain lions, the habitat suitability map identified the Badlands and associated Missouri River (MR) Breaklands as having a sufficient amount of suitable habitat to support a small resident population. Based on an initial analysis of habitat quality, approximately 2% of North Dakota (suitable habitat in the Badlands and MR Breaklands) could support an average of 45 to 74 resident adult animals under a management scenario with no harvest mortality. This is not an estimate of the current population size, but rather an estimate of habitat potential for the area.

NDF&G Plans for 2006-07 are to:

1) continue to record and verify reported sightings of lions,
2) survey hunters for lion sighting information,
3) test the habitat suitability map,
4) conduct field surveys to monitor the population,
5) coordinate with Tribal authorities and adjacent state agencies on lion management issues,
6) continue with education efforts and
7) conduct a second experimental season

Click here to view revised "Big Picture" Map.

The subject of Mountain Lions in North Dakota was the feature of an article in the April 2006 issue of the Cougar Network's "Wild Cat News" publication .


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