Officials: Mountain lion likely a cat

Sunday, January 14, 2007

MINOT, N.D. -- DuWayne Hendrickson is sure he spotted a mountain lion near his home just south of U.S. 2. Biologists say it could, indeed have been a feline, but more likely a large house cat.

"I saw it myself for 30 seconds from about 100 feet away," Hendrickson said. "I've been around animals all my life. I'm not an idiot."

Greg Gullickson, a biologist with the state Game and Fish Department said he investigated the tracks and photographed them. He found a "99 percent probability" they were made by a domestic cat.

"It's blatantly obvious that's what they are," said Gullickson.

Hendrickson "called in saying his son had seen it, and he described a young mountain lion," Gullickson said. "I actually saw a cat matching the description that the individual gave about a block away [from Hendrickson[']s house], and it was a large, orange domestic cat."

Gullickson said the cat he saw was headed away from the area of the tracks in the same direction they were made.

"Mountain lion tracks are much larger and typically are 3 inches by 3 inches," he said. "Mountain lion tracks also do not have nail marks in them and are round and not pointed like a domestic dog track."

Gullickson said his department still wants people to call if they think they spot a cougar in the area.

"Especially when [the sightings are] this close to town," he said. "We definitely like to hear about it."

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