Montana governor Greg Gianforte chased a mountain lion up a tree with a pack of dogs, then shot and killed it.
The shooting took place on US Forest Service land southwest of Emigrant, Montana in late December. The mountain lion, a five-year-old, was being monitored via GPS collar by staff biologists at Yellowstone National Park who knew it as M220.
“The governor and friends tracked the lion on public lands,” Mr. Gianforte’s press secretary Brooke Stroyke wrote in a statement to The Washington Post. “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.”
After confirming that the mountain lion was male, Stroyke wrote, Gianforte “harvested it”.
This is not the first-term Republican governor’s first experience hunting monitored wildlife. In February of last year, Gianforte killed a monitored wolf known as 1155 just outside Yellowstone. That hunt violated state law, as Gianforte failed to complete a mandatory trapping class beforehand.
Gianforte has long been a controversial figure in Montana politics. He first made national
news in 2017 when he assaulted a journalist from The Guardian on the eve of a special election for the state’s lone seat in the House of Representatives, allegedly body-slamming the journalist to the floor and breaking his glasses after being asked about healthcare policy.
Gianforte won the election narrowly to replace Ryan Zinke, who departed to serve as Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, but he was briefly booked into jail later that year and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. Trump later praised Gianforte for the episode.
After winning the governor’s office in 2020, Gianforte, who was born in San Diego, has dramatically relaxed hunting laws in Montana — supporting an ordinance calling for the state’s wolf population to be lowered and allowing hunters to kill wolves just outside of Yellowstone.
In the last six months, a record 25 Yellowstone wolves have been killed — 19 in Montana.