Cougar That Wowed Biologists Killed in Montana

She traveled more than 10 times as far as expected
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2016 1:50 AM CST
Cougar That Wowed Biologists Killed in Montana
This map from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations show the cougar's journey.   (British Columbia Ministry of Forests)

A young mountain lion from Canada made a surprising journey of hundreds of miles before she was killed by a hunter in Montana, biologists say. The cougar, nicknamed Sandy, was collared in British Columbia 10 months ago and, after a 450-mile journey, had settled in the Helena Valley when she was legally killed last month, reports the Great Falls Tribune. The Tribune notes that such a long journey wouldn't be so unusual for a male mountain lion, but females don't tend to make it further than 25 to 40 miles away from where they were raised.

"We're really surprised to see this kind of movement from a female cougar," a government wildlife biologist in BC told the Tribune when the animal was first detected in Montana last month, having crossed mountains and prairie to get there. "It's just not common. Males are known to wander pretty far." He said that according to GPS data, Sandy spent plenty of time in forested areas close to houses on her journey east. A wildlife biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks tells the Tribune that the cougar, who was around 2 years old, was "just a lion that happened to be harvested," though the case "reaffirms the capacity of lions to disperse and remain genetically connected." (Last month, a hunter in Idaho shot a mountain lion with a bizarre deformity.)

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