Historically, mountain lions inhabited most of North Dakota, though they were only abundant in the Little Missouri Badlands region.
Keep in mind that although lions are physically capable of living in certain places (based on geographical, vegetative and prey species characteristics), it does not mean they necessarily do. Fragmentation, sport hunting practices, and intolerant communities can wipe out lions from any area. For more data on habitat-usage, check out our Science tab.
Wildlife managers recognize that there is a relatively small population of mountain lions residing in the Badlands, Missouri River Breaks, and Kildeer Mountain regions.
Occasionally, there are individual mountain lions documented in other parts of the state as well. NDGFD models of habitat suitability highlight the Badlands, Missouri River Breaks, and Killdeer Mountains regions, an area comprising 6% of the total state, which is about 10,267 square kilometers, as providing suitable habitat for mountain lions. The largest number of sightings have occurred in McKenzie and Dunn counties, which have the highest proportion of suitable habitat for mountain lions.
Establishing mountain lion-friendly legislation and management practices will likely need to play a role in allowing this top carnivore to return to the great state of North Dakota. Check out our Action Tab to see what you can do to help!