A mountain lion in a tree in Yellowstone in January, 2022.Jacob W. Frank/NPS/Planet Pix/Zuma

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Puma. Cougar. Mountain lion. There are many names for the big cats that roam the Americas, rarely attacking humans.

But there’s only one name that springs to mind for Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte: Asshole.

You might remember Gianforte as the former Republican congressman who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for body-slamming a Guardian reporter in 2017—a crime for which former President Trump dubbed him “my kind of guy.” Recently, Gianforte has been getting his ya-yas out through a different sort of violence: trophy hunting.

In December 2021, when a Yellowstone mountain lion made the mistake of venturing off national park lands, Gianforte and a group of friends used hunting dogs to chase the cat up a tree, where Gianforte shot and killed it, the Washington Post reports. The 5-year-old mountain lion, one of about 34 to 42 that live in Yellowstone year-round, had been monitored by park staff with a GPS collar.

The mountain lion hunt was apparently legal, but that doesn’t mean it was entirely benign. Here’s a bit from WaPo report, emphasis mine:

Some Montanans have raised questions about the tactics employed during the hunt. One person familiar with the incident told The Post that the mountain lion was kept in the tree by the hunting dogs for a couple of hours while Gianforte traveled to the site in the Rock Creek drainage area. In neighboring Wyoming, detaining a mountain lion in a tree until another hunter arrives is illegal.

Hope that makes him feel like a man.

Gianforte has run afoul of hunting laws in the past. In February 2021, he killed a collared Yellowstone wolf without having taken a mandatory trapping class first. At the time, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks gave him a written warning.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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