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MOUNTAIN LIONS IN THE STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA

Help protect North Dakota’s declining mountain lion population!

Historically, mountain lions inhabited most of North Dakota, though they were only abundant in the Little Missouri Badlands region. Though there was never a bounty on mountain lions in North Dakota, they were hunted to local extirpation.

Decades later, a small number of cats recolonized North Dakota and established a self-sustaining population. Despite having a population of only a couple dozen cats, the state of North Dakota implemented a hunting season in 2005 and has raised the quota a handful of times since then.

    USE THE TABS TO THE LEFT TO EXPLORE:
  • Return to the portal page for North Dakota.

  • The status of puma concolor in North Dakota.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in North Dakota.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in North Dakota.

  • Cougar science and research in North Dakota.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

SUMMARY: Cougars in the State of North Dakota

For more detail you can explore using the links below.

The status of puma concolor.

Historically, mountain lions inhabited most of North Dakota, though they were only abundant in the Little Missouri Badlands region. Though there was never a bounty on mountain lions in North Dakota, they were hunted to local extirpation. Decades later, a small number of cats recolonized North Dakota and established a self-sustaining population. Despite having a population of only a couple dozen cats, the state of North Dakota implemented a hunting season in 2005 and has raised the quota a handful of times since then.

Click here to learn more about status

Mountain lion law in North Dakota.

In the box below you will find all the governing state statutes, mountain lion legal status, state laws, information about the state legislature, initiative and referendum processes, and the state wildlife agency, mountain lion management plans, mountain lion hunting laws, depredation laws, and other regulations as appropriate.

Click here to learn more about law

The history of lions in the state.

Mountain lions historically populated most of North Dakota before European settlers arrived. The Lewis and Clark expedition encountered and killed mountain lions as they crossed the Great Plains in 1805. A lion was even thought to have stolen three deer skins from one of their encampments there. Lions were extirpated from North Dakota by 1902. The last known lion in the state, a female, was killed near the Missouri River. Mountain lions have returned to the state and today a small and precarious population inhabits the Black Hills and several other confined areas in the state.

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Lion habitat in North Dakota.

Historically, mountain lions inhabited most of North Dakota, though they were only abundant in the Little Missouri Badlands region. Keep in mind that although lions are physically capable of living in certain places (based on geographical, vegetative and prey species characteristics), it does not mean they necessarily do. Fragmentation, sport hunting practices, and intolerant communities can wipe out lions from any area. For more data on habitat-usage, check out our Science tab.

Click here to learn more about habitat

The science of lions in the state.

Mountain Lion research in North Dakota is generally conducted by the state wildlife agency, North Dakota Game and Fish. Any research papers listed may be under strict copyright protection, so we may only list their abstracts here. However, if you would like a personal copy of the full paper to read, please contact MLF and we will do what we can to provide one to you.

Click here to learn more about science

Take action for lions.

North Dakota Game and Fish has been closely monitoring the state's mountain lion population and found that the population has been declining precipitously. The population is somewhat isolated from other populations in Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota and must have some protections if we want it to remain viable. Help us push NDGFD to establish a management plan with specific objectives, protocols, habitat analyses, and conflict response procedures!

Click here to learn more about action
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