North Dakota

North Dakota

Mountain lions historically inhabited most of North Dakota, but were extirpated by the beginning of the 20th century. Today, there is a small population of cougars confined to a limited portion of the western part of the state. In 2005, North Dakota implemented a limited hunting season with an initial quota of 5 cats. In recent years, quotas have been raised to 21 in the western zone (outside of this small zone, there is a season with no quota).

A multi-year research study completed in 2014 by North Dakota Game and Fish and South Dakota State University found that ND’s small population of cougars is declining, and that immigration from nearby populations in Montana and South Dakota is important to sustaining genetic diversity. The study also concluded that predation on livestock was “minimal.”

For more information on cougar management in North Dakota, read this 2014 report from NDGFD:

Status of Mountain Lion Management in North Dakota, 2014

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department administers a mountain lion hunting season in two geographical zones of the state. Zone 1 – the western portion of the state, which NDGFD believes contains most of the state’s cougars – has an annual quota of 21 cats, with no female subquota. Hounds may be used in Zone 1’s late season. Zone 2, which comprises a large majority of the state, is open to hunting with hounds but has no quota.

In the 2013-2014 hunting season, 17 cougars were killed, 13 of which were females. In addition, NDGFD reported a minimum of 14 other cougar mortalities.

According to a recent study conducted by NDGFD and South Dakota State University, cougar populations in the state are declining.


  • Proceedings of the 11th Mountain Lion Workshop

     • The Cougar Fund

    Proceedings of the 11th Mountain Lion Workshop
    Integrating Scientific Findings into Management
    Hunter Conference Center, Southern Utah University
    Cedar City, Utah
    May 12‐15, 2014

  • Integrating Values and Ethics into Wildlife Policy and Management—Lessons from North America

     • The Cougar Fund

    Fox and Bekoff (2011)

    Abstract: Few animals provoke as wide a range of emotions as wolves. Some see wolves as icons of a lost wilderness; others see them as intruders. As the battle continues between wolf proponents and opponents, finding solutions that resolve conflicts while supporting the integrity of nature is challenging. In this essay we argue that we need to make room for wolves and other native carnivores who are re-colonizing areas from which they were extirpated. Strategies that foster coexistence are necessary and wildlife agencies must consider all stakeholders and invest adequate resources to inform the public about how to mitigate conflicts between people/domestic animals, and predators. Values and ethics must be woven into wildlife policy and management and we must be willing to ask difficult ethical questions and learn from past mistakes.