Nebraska-born mountain lion killed in Montana

March 5, 2022 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A mountain lion that was born in Nebraska has been killed in Montana, a first for both states.

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that the mountain lion was just a kitten in 2018 when state biologists found it and a sibling in a den in the Pine Ridge area near Chadron and attached yellow ear tags.

The kitten wearing tag NE 78 eventually headed north, crossed Interstate 90 and put the Black Hills behind him. He walked more than 250 miles (402.34 kilometers), ending up near Ekalaka, Montana, in that state’s southeast corner, where he was killed during the state’s hunting season.

Sam Wilson, furbearer and carnivore manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, learned what happened last month. He said its mountain lions have been killed in neighboring states, but never in one more than a state away.

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It was also a first for Montana. Officials there have long suspected lions from other states — particularly the nearby Dakotas — have moved into the area. But the tagged lion confirmed that, said Emily Mitchell, a Montana wildlife biologist.

And that’s important, she said, because it maintains biodiversity in the population.

“It’s good to see that lions are coming in.”