South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks have confirmed that tracks discovered yesterday in Belle Fourche are in fact those of a mountain lion. Sightings of cougars in the area are extremely uncommon, leading officials to believe that the tracks belong to a young male cat searching for a territory.
While GFP has a “no tolerance”policy for cougars in city limits, they are confident that the cat has already left town and will not be trouble. Nonetheless, GFP’s Bill Eastman is urging Belle Fourche residents to be reasonable: “I encourage people to have a healthy respect, but not fear for mountain lions.”
Bergmann’s Rule refers to animals being larger in the north, even non-human animals seem to comply with this theory. It has often been said that mountain lions in Canada are larger and can exhibit less tolerant or elusive behavior. However this story is quite astounding, even for Canada. The lion sounds to be within widely recognized weight limits so it wasn’t bigger than normal but its behavior was bafflingly aggressive. The story was obviously terrifying for the men involved, who reacted appropriately by fighting back and then securing themselves in their truck. This has to be one of the most unusual attacks we have ever heard of. Cougar attacks are exceptionally rare and we hope the investigating agency is able to identify the reasons for this almost unique event. We will let you know if any more information emerges.
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks has stopped collaring cougars for research and will now rely solely on DNA for their “mark-recapture” population studies. SDGFP says the new method is cheaper and more efficient, but it is also worth noting that it is far less invasive for the animal.
In recent years, collared cats from South Dakota have been tracked dispersing into Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Canada, Oklahoma, and even as far as Connecticut. South Dakota’s cougar population remains a very significant source for recolonization of the midwest and eastern states.