Mont. Governor Killed Collared Mountain Lion Outside Yellowstone

Animal hunted by Gianforte, who has a license to do so, had been chased up tree by hounds first
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2022 6:23 AM CST
Updated Mar 6, 2022 4:20 PM CST
Mont. Governor Killed Collared Mountain Lion Outside Yellowstone
In this Jan. 5, 2021, photo Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte speaks to members of the press in Helena, Mont.   (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File)

On Tuesday, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park, praising its beauty and wonder. It's also the same day the governor showed up in a different headline, this one involving his killing of a mountain lion that wandered outside the protected areas of that same park. NBC News notes it's illegal to hunt in Yellowstone itself, but animals who leave the park's limits for unprotected land in Montana, as well as in neighboring Idaho and Wyoming, are fair game—and Gianforte apparently capitalized on the opportunity in late December by shooting a mountain lion that had been chased up a tree by hounds.

The Washington Post reports the 5-year-old mountain lion had had a GPS-enabled collar placed on it by Yellowstone scientists so they could keep tabs on its activity. Gianforte spokeswoman Brooke Stroyke confirmed Gianforte's Dec. 28 kill, noting he had a license to hunt mountain lions and that members of his group who had the hounds possessed a hound training license. "After the lion was treed, the governor confirmed the mountain lion was a [male], harvested it, and put his tag on it," Stroyke noted in an email, adding that the governor also reported the harvesting to Montana's Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. A spokesman for that agency similarly backed Gianforte's legal hunt.

"Mountain lion hunting has a strong history in Montana, and mountain lion hunters are some of the elusive predators' strongest advocates and those most engaged in how lions are managed across the state," Greg Lemon said in an email, per NBC. Some locals are complaining that the mountain lion was kept in the tree for a couple of hours until Gianforte arrived to harvest it; Stroyke denies that happened. Conservationists irked at recently loosened hunting laws have also targeted the practices of Gianforte, who last year killed a tagged wolf that had wandered off protected lands before completing a required certification course. Aside from his hunting exploits, Gianforte is perhaps best known on the national stage for body-slamming a reporter during his 2017 run for Congress. (More Greg Gianforte stories.)

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