BISMARCK, N.D. — A mountain lion that wildlife officials had tracked last fall before it thwarted their efforts was shot and killed Tuesday after wandering into an area not far from the North Dakota state capital city's downtown.
Mountain lion sightings in the state's cities are rare — the last one killed within Bismarck's borders was nearly 10 years ago. Officials believe the young male killed Tuesday originated in the western badlands, was traveling along the Missouri River in search of new territory and possibly followed a deer into the city, looking for a meal.
Downtown Bismarck isn't that far from the river, and "the Missouri River is an excellent travel corridor for young lions seeking new territory," said Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the state Game and Fish Department. "He just got off track a little bit."
Police received a call about 5 a.m. from someone who reported seeing a lion in the backyard of a home near Bismarck Municipal Ballpark. Law officers and a Game and Fish official responded to the area and followed the lion's tracks through a city park, through the ballpark and into another city park.
"Due to the danger to the public and proximity to homes, the mountain lion was dispatched after it was located," police spokeswoman Lynn Wanner said.
It wasn't the first time Game and Fish had dealt with the lion, a male 1-2 years old and weighing about 100 pounds. In late October, a coyote trapper caught the lion in a trap south of Regent, about 100 miles southwest of Bismarck, and notified the agency. Wildlife officials sedated it, put an identification ear tag and a GPS tracking collar on it, and released it back into the wild.
About a month later, the lion somehow slipped the collar, which after two days of staying in a stationary area emits a signal indicating the animal is dead.
"We went out to find it and found only a collar," Williams said.
Bismarck has a population of about 73,000.