GRASSY BUTTE A homeowner northwest of here shot and killed a visitor that was discovered lying on his couch Wednesday evening a 38-pound mountain lion kitten.
"I got home from Dickinson and turned the lights on and saw the commotion. I thought, what the heck, this isn't good," said Eddy Tarnovsky. "I saw dead kittens on the floor and then a long tail bouncing around."
Tarnovsky said he grabbed a .22-caliber pistol and discovered the mountain lion resting on his couch.
"The .22 jammed up a couple of times but I unjammed it," said Tarnovsky. "The lion kept sitting calmly on the couch. I guess he figured his time was up. Really, who do you know that's killed a lion on their couch?"
The North Dakota Game & Fish Department confirmed the kill in a press release issued Thursday afternoon. According to Chief Game Warden Robert Timian, Tarnovsky shot the animal and then contacted Game & Fish.
Ironically, it was a surprise package that may have been responsible for the surprising incident.
"An oil service guy out of Sidney brought me a Christmas present and threw it between the house door and the screen door. The inside door was not completely latched," said Tarnovsky.
Timian said initial investigation revealed the garage door was open during the day and that the door from the garage into the house was open when the owner returned home.
Tarnovsky has several domestic cats on his property, which is located near the southern border of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Four of the cats inside the home were killed, apparently by the young mountain lion. Timian speculated that the lion was attracted to the house by cat scent coming through the open door.
"This is a very unusual situation," said Timian. "The homeowner probably wasn't in any danger from the small lion and he was well within his rights to dispatch it."
The Grassy Butte area has long been known as prime mountain lion range in North Dakota. Several lions have been harvested in that area previously. The mountain lion hunting season is currently closed in that area because the season quota has already been met.