By Brian Gehring Bismarck Tribune | Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2010 11:37 am |
The story of the 15-year-old girl shooting a mountain lion near her home south of Bismarck has generated a lot of interest in various circles.
And it has a raised a few questions as well.
One of the questions many are wondering; is it legal to shoot mountain lions after dark?
Terry Steinwand, director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the simple answer is no.
Certain furbearing species, raccoon, fox and coyotes, can be hunted legally at night. It is not legal to hunt mountain lions at night in most situations.
But in the case of this particular mountain lion, he said that falls into somewhat a different category because it was deemed a depredation shooting.
Depredation meaning livestock or other personal property were at risk from a predator.
As a point of reference, the cat was shot about 8 p.m. on a Saturday after being sighted within about 10 yards of a house.
Steinwand said in a case such as that, it is not required to contact a game warden before going out to track the animal.
After the animal was shot, the family did call a game warden, Steinwand said, but cell phones being what they are, he said the message was not received until the following Monday.
Steinwand said the family did everything they were supposed to do in that situation by contacting authorities within 24 hours.
On the question of why the animal was returned to the girl, Steinwand said it came down to getting a legal opinion from the attorney general’s office, an opinion that was a day and half coming, he said.
According to game and fish policy, animals killed in depredation shooting must be surrendered to the game and fish department. That was done.
But according to the legal opinion, Steinwand said the department has the option of keeping the animal or returning it.
He said it’s a situation that has happened only once before, prior to him being named director.
Steinwand said in these situations there is an investigation process to be completed and in this case, that investigation was wrapped up in about 36 hours.
He said there was evidence of livestock being killed by a mountain lion as well as poultry missing from farms.
He said a federal wildlife officer had been actively looking for the animal.
Steinwand said correct policies were followed by both the family and the authorities.
Policies can be changed and Steinwand said with depredation shootings, they are dealt with on a case-by-case basis contingent on the results of the investigation.
(Reach reporter Brian Gehring 250-8254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)