Game and Fish confirms mountain lion tracks in Lincoln

BISMARCK (AP) — North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department has confirmed that a mountain lion passed through the city of Lincoln about a month after a lion wandered into the middle of nearby Bismarck and was killed by police in the interest of public safety.
Two lion confirmations in such a short period is probably a first for the capital city area, but they are likely an anomaly and no cause for public concern, according to the state’s lion expert.
Lions rarely attack people, and even though their main habitat is in western North Dakota, they are at times found outside the Badlands, Game and Fish furbearer biologist Stephanie Tucker said Thursday.
“Wildlife can turn up anywhere in North Dakota, any day of the week,” she said. “Mountain lions are often found along major river corridors, and Bismarck just happens to be along a river corridor.”
The young male lion that was shot and killed by police at a municipal ballpark near Bismarck’s downtown on Jan. 8 likely was traveling along the Missouri River in search of new territory and possibly followed a deer into the city, looking for a meal, according to state Wildlife Chief Jeb Williams.
Tracks found in Lincoln on Wednesday indicate that a lion moved through the community and a development area near the University of Mary on its way south toward a wildlife management area along the Missouri, away from populated areas.
About 73,000 people live in Bismarck, and an estimated 3,700 live in the bedroom community of Lincoln. The area is in the state’s mountain lion hunting zone 2, where the season is open through March and there is no limit to the number of lions that can be killed.
The limit in western North Dakota’s zone 1 is 15 lions. Nine were killed during this year’s early and late hunting seasons. Hunters have until the end of March to take the final allotted six.