Montana’s Republican governor, Greg Gianforte, shot and killed a mountain lion chased up a tree by hunting dogs, according to The Washington Post. The lion, part of a rare and elusive species, was being monitored by Yellowstone biologists at the time of its death.

The governor’s office confirmed the kill, which occurred on December 28th on public land just north of Yellowstone National Park. Gianforte’s spokesman noted that he had a proper license.

Yet, many area residents are skeptical of the governor’s story. The Post reports:

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.

“There are an estimated 34 to 42 mountain lions that reside year-round in Yellowstone,” explains The Post. The mountain lion Gianforte hunted, dubbed M220 by researchers, was a five-year old male.

“We almost never see a mountain lion,” said Nathan Varley, a biologist who leads wildlife viewing tours in Yellowstone, to The Post. “They’re just too secretive. They usually only move around at night. They love to hide. They just don’t sit out in the open very much.”

Gianforte killed a Yellowstone wolf last year in an incident that violated state law because he did not have the proper certification.

The Post adds:

Conservationistshave been outraged by Gianforte’s personal hunting exploits as well as his support of controversial pro-hunting laws that passed last year. One law mandated a cut in the state’s wolf population and prompted regulations freeing up hunters to kill wolves just outside Yellowstone’s boundaries. In the past six months, 25 Yellowstone wolves have been killed — a record for one year — all but six of them in Montana.

“The consequences are severe for wolves,” said Dan Wenk, who was Yellowstone National Park superintendent from 2011 to 2018.