Lion study in Castle, Little Belt mountains planned this winter

Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists and experienced houndsmen will be conducting field work this winter in the Little Belt and Castle Mountains to help estimate the number and density of mountain lions in the area.

The work is part of a statewide research strategy to monitor and manage Montana’s lion populations.

The research is scheduled to run from Dec. 12 through mid-April 2023. The work is part of FWP’s mountain lion monitoring and management strategy adopted in 2019, using genetic samples to make periodic population estimates of lions in different management ecoregions of the state. FWP is in its fourth year of this new population monitoring strategy, and this year’s work will be the second of two estimates conducted in the west-central lion ecoregion, focused upon Regions 4 and 5.

To collect data, FWP biologists and local houndsmen use trained dogs to track, tree and dart mountain lions to take DNA samples that will be combined with other information to help biologists estimate lion numbers. Hunter harvest data, including DNA from lion districts 405, 411, 413, 416, 418, 419, 420, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 452, 535, 540 and 580 will also be collected this winter. Hunter-harvested

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