Bitterroot Mountain Lion Numbers Higher than Expected - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Bitterroot Mountain Lion Numbers Higher than Expected

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MISSOULA -

Figures from a new study report that mountain lion numbers are higher than expected in the southern Bitterroot Valley.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and University of Montana researchers released the results of the DNA- based study on Thursday.

DNA samples were collected from lions in the East and West Forks of the Bitterroot from December of 2012 to April of 2013.

FWP's Dr. Kelly Proffitt said that officers traditionally estimated the population by using radio collars or counting individual lions. Proffitt added that recent advancements in DNA sampling made it possible to get a more accurate estimate of the lion population.

"These new techniques reduced time, cost and the number of lions that had to be handled," Proffitt said. "And, made it practical for us to obtain an improved lion population estimate specific to the Bitterroot."

Wildlife managers will then use this information to manage the mountain lion population in balance with deer and elk numbers.

"With this new information we will need to re-evaluate our lion harvest quotas for next season before FWP makes its proposals to the Fish & Wildlife Commission in April," said Mike Thompson, the wildlife manager for FWP Region 2. "We'll be tracking lion harvest as we go and will have the chance to adjust quotas up or down as needed."

To find out more, you can view the Bitterroot lion project report online by clicking here.

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