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Area men sentenced in mountain lion killings

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Mountain lion

A Bozeman man and a Manhattan, Mont., man have been sentenced for the illegal killing of two mountain lions in early January in Meagher County, according to a news release from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

A third wounded lion was never found but is presumed dead, says Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden John Lesofski of White Sulphur Springs.

Dwain E. Robertson, 54, of Bozeman, pleaded guilty Feb. 3 and was fined $3,075 by Meagher County Justice of the Peace Paula Wildman for attempting to take an over limit of mountain lions ($635), unlawful possession of a lion ($535), hunting during a closed season ($535) and two counts of trespass ($370). Robertson was also ordered to pay $1,000 restitution and had his hunting, trapping and fishing privileges revoked for 4 years.

Douglas L. Smith, 65, of Manhattan, pleaded guilty and was fined $605 by Wildman for two counts of criminal trespass ($370) and driving off established roads ($235).

Smith pleaded not guilty to unlawful possession of a mountain lion. No trial date has been scheduled yet. If found guilty, Smith could be fined $535 and lose his hunting, trapping and fishing privileges for two years.

The case started Jan. 1 when Lesofski received a tip that Smith and Robertson were trespassing on the Brewer and Miller ranches south of Ringling and had a dead juvenile lion. A juvenile lion is about a year old.

The area is part of mountain lion hunting district 391, which was closed.

The next day Lesofski and landowner Rod Brewer found a blood site on a ranch road and followed it. They discovered a dead adult female lion and blood in the tracks of another juvenile lion that had wandered off but was never found because of severe winter conditions.

After obtaining a search warrant from District Court Judge John Brown of Bozeman, FWP game wardens from Regions 3 and 4 searched Smith’s and Robertson’s homes, yielding the evidence for the convictions.

“In my 20 plus years as a game warden” Lesofski says, “this is the first time I have ever dealt with someone shooting a group of lions; that happens more often with elk and deer. This case was solved because of landowner and sportsman cooperation.”


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