Sunday, June 10, 2007

Season opens for mountain lions on N.D. reservation

By ELOISE OGDEN, Regional Editor eogden@minotdailynews.com

Tribal furbearers license required

NEW TOWN – Those who wish to participate in the temporary season on mountain lions on Fort Berthold Reservation must have a tribal furbearers license, which can be obtained from the tribal Game and Fish Department.

Maps are available from the department showing which areas of the reservation are open to the mountain lion season.

There is a mountain lion proclamation indicating what can be harvested. Female mountain lions with kittens still having spots will be illegal to harvest.

There is a limit of one animal per hunter. But there is no limit for the total number of cats harvested during the overall temporary season.

“The only requirement that we ask for is to have the harvested animal weighed and checked out by the state Game and Fish. The skull and pelt then will be returned to the hunter who harvests it,” said Fred Poitra, director of the Three Affiliated Tribes’ Game and Fish Department.

For more information about the season contact the tribal Game and Fish Department at 627-4760. The Game and Fish Department office is located on Main Street in New Town.

NEW TOWN – The Three Affiliated Tribes has opened a temporary, month-long season on mountain lions in specific areas of Fort Berthold Reservation because of many recent sightings of the cats.

The season’s only for New Town, Four Bears, Shell Creek and Mandaree areas on the reservation.

Barry Benson, chairman of the tribes’ Natural Resources Committee and Twin Buttes representative to the tribal business council, stressed that the mountain lion season is being held to ensure the safety of people and only for communities where there have been recent sightings.

The decision to hold a season on the cats was made Thursday at an emergency meeting of the Natural Resources Committee.

The meeting was held after a tribal member reported to the tribal Game and Fish Department that when driving into New Town he spotted a mountain lion chasing two deer near the entrance to the New Town Marina. The marina is about a mile west of New Town along North Dakota Highway 23.

Last month, a mountain lion was sighted in that area near a walking path.

On Wednesday, there also was a sighting of a mountain lion in a field behind the Northern Lights Addition in the north part of New Town, said Fred Poitra, director of the tribal Game and Fish Department. He said a tribal member who lives about 17 miles south of New Town also reported a mountain lion in that area that day.

On Friday afternoon, Poitra said game wardens were checking out a report of a mountain lion spotted near the rodeo grounds on the west side of New Town that afternoon.

Poitra said there was a sighting of a mountain lion kitten in the area of the community gardens west of New Town Tuesday.

On Sunday, Hollis Blake, who lives west of New Town, saw one of his horses had been attacked, Poitra said.

“The horse was pretty well beat up. It definitely was a mountain lion,” Poitra said. He said the horse was mauled on its side and stomach.

“He was all ripped up,” Blake told the MHA Times, the tribal newspaper. He also told the newspaper that the wounds, which are on both sides of the horse near the ribs, are more than 1-foot wide and surrounded by scratch marks.

This is the third horse that the tribal Game and Fish Department has had reports of attacks by mountain lions, but Poitra said he expects there could be more incidents people haven’t noticed or reported.

Late last month, a tribal member shot a mountain lion in the area of the Figure Four Ranch southwest of Mandaree. The tribal member, who thought the tribal Game and Fish Department had opened a season on the cats, was fined.

In mid-April, a mountain lion was found frozen in Lake Sakakawea, near the same time when a paw print of a cat was found in the Van Hook area.

The tribal Game and Fish Department has brought in a professional mountain lion hunter to help them track the animals.

Poitra said his department also has made arrangements to get a trap for a live mountain lion, which they hope to pick up this weekend and will place in the area.

Poitra, who has been a game warden for 15 years and now is director of the department, said the reservation has never before had this much mountain lion activity.

The mountain lion season will continue through July 15. However, Benson said during the tribal business council meeting Thursday the council will discuss whether to make any changes or extend the season.

Anyone sighting a mountain lion on the reservation is asked to immediately contact the Three Affiliated Tribes Game and Fish Department at 627-4760 or Fred Poitra, director, at 421-0899.

http://www.minotdailynews.com/news/ articles.asp?articleID=11733

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