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WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 12, 2010, 10:31 AM

Small dog traps big cat in eastern SD

COLMAN, S.D. (AP) — A 150-pound mountain lion has proved to be no match for a squirrel-chasing Jack Russell terrier on a farm in eastern South Dakota.

COLMAN, S.D. (AP) — A 150-pound mountain lion has proved to be no match for a squirrel-chasing Jack Russell terrier on a farm in eastern South Dakota.

Jack, who weighs only 17 pounds, was making such a fuss Tuesday morning that Virtus Strenge and his son Chad were compelled to step outside and investigate. They discovered the cougar up a tree, staring down at the barking terrier.

"He trees cats all the time," Chad Strenge told The Argus Leader. "I suppose he figured it was just a cat."

Chad Strenge grabbed a shotgun, knocked the lion from the tree and fired several shots during a pursuit through trees and a slough, eventually killing the wild animal. Jack helped out, chasing the lion in and out of the slough, barking and biting.

Arden Petersen, regional supervisor for the wildlife division of Game, Fish and Parks, told The Madison Daily Leader that Strenge was justified in shooting the lion and that no charges will be filed.

The lion was taken to South Dakota State University, where it will be studied.

Professor Jonathan Jenks, who has followed big cats and tracked migration patterns in the Dakotas for years, said an adult mountain lion occasionally will appear on the far eastern side of the state.

"It very well could have lost a territory and decided to take off from the Black Hills and head this way," he told The Argus Leader. "It's not common, but it's not unusual."

Lion hunters will use dogs to chase animals up trees, he said, but they usually use two or three hound dogs. He said he found deer in the lion's stomach and that lions sometimes don't attack when they don't perceive a threat.

"It probably wasn't hungry, and that could be why he didn't just scarf (Jack) down, but we can't say for sure," he said. "I have no idea why the heck it happened."

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