Matching its plans to suppress and potentially eliminate its small population of a few hundred lions, South Dakota continued its policy of persecution when authorities shot and killed a young mountain lion that had innocently wandered into a residential section of Rapid City.
The 80 lb. lion was spotted sitting in a tree by residents early Monday morning. A warden from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks was called to the scene where. Following South Dakota's zero tolerance towards lions policy, he shot the animal out of the tree with a shotgun. An accompanying Rapid City police officer eventually killed the mortally wounded animal as it desperately tried to flee.
Juvenile lions are the ones most likely to be seen in urban/suburban settings because after leaving their mothers they usually have to travel far distances through unknown regions to find an unoccupied territory to claim for themselves. Often the border between open lands and rural communities - such as the case with a small, sprawling town like Rapid City - is hard to discern.
In most of the U.S., there's a good chance teenage lions will temporarily cross that line as they follow natural corridors (ravines, gullies, waterways). Occasionally, as the sun comes up young lions find themselves stuck in the middle of human development. Lions are more active at night and so usually, like the Rapid City lion, they will climb a tree to safely await the return of dark to once more be on their way.
If given time and space, lions will return to the wild. To date, there has never been an attack on a human by any mountain lion found in these so called "public safety" situations.