A mountain lion collared for a study in northeastern Montana’s C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in February 2011 was shot in December by a hunter about 230 air miles away in North Dakota.
Unfortunately, the collar and all of the data it contained dropped off before the male lion was killed. So what route the lion took to cross the Yellowstone River, Interstate 94 and amble into the southwestern corner of North Dakota — and how long it took to make the trip — may remain a mystery, unless the collar is found.
The collar was scheduled to drop off in August. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff track the collars with a VHF radio signal. Since the agency didn’t know the cat’s whereabouts until months after the collar had dropped, the battery had either weakened or failed, making retrieval impossible.
“We had a pilot and plane look hard for it,” said Randy Matchett, a wildlife biologist for the CMR Refuge.
Mountain lions are known to wander, especially young males seeking to establish their own territory. The farthest a lion is known to have traveled is 1,500 miles. It was a South Dakota mountain lion that was struck and killed by a car in Connecticut.