Greg Gianforte has caused outrage after hunting and killing a COLLARED Mountain Lion outside Yellowstone National Park.
The Republican governor slaughtered the Mountain Lion in December on U.S. Forest Service land in Park County, southwest of Emigrant, Montana. The five-year-old Mountain Lion, who was being monitored via GPS collar by staff biologists at Yellowstone National Park, was chased up a tree by dogs and then shot.
“The governor and friends tracked the lion on public lands,” said Gianforte’s press secretary Brooke Stroyke in a statement to The Washington Post who first reported on the events. “As the group got closer to the lion, members of the group, who have a hound training license, used four hounds to tree the lion once the track was discovered in a creek bottom on public land.”
Stroyke also said that once the Mountain Lion had been forced up the tree, Gianforte “harvested it and put his tag on it. He immediately called to report the legal harvest and then the [Fish, Wildlife & Parks] game warden.”
The governor’s office confirmed the kill, which occurred on December 28th on public land just north of Yellowstone National Park. Gianforte’s spokesman noted that he had a proper license.
Yet, many area residents are sceptical of the governor’s story. The Post reports:
Some Montanans have raised questions about the tactics employed during the hunt. One person familiar with the incident told The Post that the Mountain Lion was kept in the tree by the hunting dogs for a couple of hours while Gianforte travelled to the site in the Rock Creek drainage area. In neighbouring Wyoming, detaining a Mountain Lion in a tree until another hunter arrives is illegal.
“There are an estimated 34 to 42 Mountain Lions that reside year-round in Yellowstone,” explains The Post. The Mountain Lion Gianforte hunted, dubbed M220 by researchers, was a five-year old male.
“We almost never see a Mountain Lion,” said Nathan Varley, a biologist who leads wildlife viewing tours in Yellowstone. “They’re just too secretive. They usually only move around at night. They love to hide. They just don’t sit out in the open very much.”
This marks the second time Gianforte has reportedly shot and killed a monitored animal who wandered beyond the protected boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. In February of last year, Gianforte violated state hunting regulations after slaughtering a collard wolf 10 miles outside Yellowstone without the necessary trapping license or training.
Last year, Gianforte outraged conservationists and animal campaigners after dramatically stripping back hunting laws in Montana. The new rulemaking authorized the widespread killing of wolves in areas bordering Yellowstone National Park, paving the way for the potential slaughter of around 85 percent of the state’s wolf population. The use of strangulation snares, night hunting, and bait to hunt and trap the animals was also permitted.
“The consequences are severe for wolves,” said Dan Wenk, who was Yellowstone National Park superintendent from 2011 to 2019.
In the last six months alone, a record 25 Yellowstone wolves have been shot, trapped, and killed by hunters. 19 of these animals were slaughtered in Montana just over the park border.
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