Many years ago, Mountain Lions roamed the badlands.
As years went on they left the area, but now some have returned to the place they originally called home.
Alexus Arthur has more.
“They were here historically, they disappeared, and now they’ve come back.” said Randy Johnson.
The mountain lion population has been around for over 30 years and a portion of them are in the badlands.
“North Dakota actually represents one of the eastern most populations of mountain lions.” said Johnson.
South Dakota graduate student, Randy Johnson teamed up with the Game and Fish Department to discover why the mountain lions came back.”
“They’re one of the most difficult things to study anywhere.” said Johnson.
They are so difficult to study because they are secretive by nature and like to be alone in hidden places.
“The results show that they’re primarily restricted to the badlands.” said Johnson.
A mountain lion may sound intimidating.
“The chances of a negative encounter with a mountain lion are very, very low.” said Johnson.
But they actually help our ecosystem.
“It keeps those populations in check which helps protect the landscape and the vegetation and some of those more sensitive species of plants can actually flourish then.” said Johnson.
While most of the mountain lions are in the badlands, some of them like to venture out on their own.
“They do move long distances, they can show up just about anywhere in the state but it’s pretty rare.” said Johnson.
You may wonder how many are here, but Randy says that it’s hard to give an exact number.
“The evidence shows they’re decreasing.” said Johnson.
But they do know the lions are coming back.
“There’s still some stuff to be learned there.” said Johnson.
With the data collected, they’ll be able to manage the population at a tolerable level. At the Dakota College, Alexus Arthur, KX News.
The research project took over two years to complete.