Montana Gov. Gianforte Kills Moutain Lion Becomes Target Of Backlash
Republican Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte shot and killed a mountain lion on public land just north of Yellowstone National Park in December 2021, making him the target of conservationists.
Gianforte was hunting with friends on Dec.28 when their dogs treed a 5-year-old mountain lion on U.S. Forest Service land southwest of the town Emigrant, which is located approximately 30 miles away from Yellowstone.
Gianforte’s press secretary, Brooke Stroyke, confirmed that the Republican governor had shot the mountain lion.
“The governor and friends tracked the lion on public lands,” Stroyke said. “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.”
Gianforte “harvested it, and put his tag on it,” Stroyke continued. “He immediately called to report the legal harvest and then the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks game warden. In Livingston, the governor met the game warden who tagged the lion and took the collar.”
The mountain lion had been monitored by Yellowstone biologists with a GPS-tracking collar since December 2019 and National Park Service staff knew the animal as “M220.”
About 34 to 42 mountain lions reside in Yellowstone and are difficult to locate due to their characteristics and personality. Nineteen of 25 Yellowstone wolves have been killed in Montana in the past 6 months.
“We almost never see a mountain lion,” Nathan Varley, a biologist who leads tours in Yellowstone, said. “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.”
While the hunt was deemed legal, conservationists are still grieved by Gianforte’s hunting practices and the law that allows hunters to kill wolves outside Yellowstone, thereby decreasing the wolf population.