Ed Tarnavsky came home Wednesday evening to an unexpected guest — a mountain lion cub had gotten comfortable on a couch inside his house northwest of Grassy Butte.
When he walked in the door and turned the lights on, he heard a commotion and found the mountain lion.
“I’ve got a bunch of house cats here and the first thing I noticed was a bunch of dead housecats, so apparently he took to killing cats and that’s where some of the commotion was coming from,” Tarnavsky said. “It was actively wandering around.”
He grabbed his .22 pistol, but it jammed.
“Once I got the gun unjammed I walked back into the porch and it’s sitting politely on the couch,” Tarnavsky said. “It was just scared of me.”
He shot and killed the lion and called the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Besides staining, Tarnavasky’s home wasn’t damaged.
NDGF Enforcement Chief Robert Timian confirmed the incident.
“It’s very young and small, so it’s still in the learning process,” Timian said. “Plus, we figure beings the doors were open and there’s a fair number of cats in the house, the scent of the cats in the house is probably what attracted it to the house.”
Tarnavasky’s home is located in an area where mountain lions are known to be present, according to an NDGF press release.
NDGF periodically receives reports of lions near farmsteads, but has never had a report of one being inside a residence, according to the release.
“The chances of it happening are probably one in a million,” Timian said.
He estimated the kitten was a 6- to 9-month-old female.
“I don’t think he was in any imminent danger,” Timian said of Tarnavsky. “I mean, this is a 38-pound kitten. We’ve never had an attack. Generally mountain lions avoid people.”
He added Tarnavsky was within his rights to shoot the lion, especially since it killed four domestic cats.
“Under the existing state law, if a mountain lion or any other fur-bearing animal is attacking your domestic pets, livestock or threatening persons, you have the legal authority to kill it,” Timian said.
Tarnavsky is unsure why his door was left open, but thinks an acquaintance may have stopped by without closing it completely.
“I don’t think the screen door latched completely and the inside door wasn’t latched completely, so that’s how he came in through the front door,” Tarnavsky said.
NDGF will be examining the carcass.
“It appeared to be a healthy, normal kitten, but that’s just on the surface appearance,” Timian said.
Normally a kitten that age is still with its mother, he added.
“We don’t know for sure that a larger cat wasn’t with it,” Timian said. “We just haven’t confirmed that a larger cat was there.”
Tarnavsky said there were mountain lion tracks around the outside of his residence Thursday morning.
“So there’s probably another one out there at the moment,” he said.
However, he hasn’t seen any other mountain lions on his property.
Tarnavsky would like to have the kitten mounted when NDGF finishes their examinations. Timian said NDGF will likely allow him to do so.