In early August of 2019, dozens of our members wrote to the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks (SDGFP) and requested that the Department end trophy hunting of lions as part of the Draft South Dakota Mountain Lion Management Plan (2019-2029). Later in August, we then asked you to submit comments to the SDGFP Commission, imploring that the Commission not approve the Plan.
The draft Plan establishes a population objective of 200-300 mountain lions in the Black Hills region. However, this objective is not scientifically sound and falsely reinforces the idea that mountain lion populations need to be managed with lethal force. The draft Plan was presented at the September 5-6 SDGFP Commission meeting in Spearfish.
At the September Commission meeting in Spearfish, SDGFP proposed a new Administrative Action Proposal and, if approved, would make it possible for out of state trophy hunters to kill mountain lions in South Dakota. SDGFP also proposed their 2019/20, 2020/21 hunting seasons quotas.
During the October meeting, the Commission voted to adopt SDGFP's draft mountain lion management plan - a plan that is overtly designed to allow for the greatest trophy hunting opportunity possible. The plan is based on invalid assumptions that mountain lion populations in South Dakota require human intervention in order to control lion expansion and mitigate conflict.
Of the proposed regulation changes, the Commission voted to extend the season from March 31 to April 30, giving hunters an extra month to kill mountain lions in the state. The Commission now also has the authority to extend the season beyond that date for any reason whatsoever. Additionally, the Commission voted to increase the number of permits for Custer State Park from 57 to 75, where hunters can use hounds to chase down mountain lions. Hounding is a cruel practice that offers hunters an unfair advantage over lions. Hounds are often equipped with GPS collars which the hunters follow, only to shoot the lion out of a tree.
The Commission rejected a proposal that would allow hunters from other states to kill mountain lions in South Dakota. Commissioners also shut down a proposal that would have allowed hounds to cross from private to public lands. This is a small win for South Dakota's mountain lions.
Unfortunately, there were no changes to reduce overall hunting quotas, which remain at 60 total mountain lions or 40 females. According to the most recent population estimates, there are around 203 mountain lions that would be old enough to be legally hunted in the Black Hills. This quota, which has been set for the next two years, will allow hunters to kill up to 30 percent of this population. This would not only threaten the survival of the species in the state, and could also worsen livestock conflicts. Hunting in the prairie region remains open year-round despite not having accurate population estimates.
Mountain Lion Foundation Comment Letter to the Department
Mountain Lion Foundation Comment Letter to the Commission
Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit comments or attend the meeting. We will continue to monitor management in South Dakota and will share any additional alerts or action items with you on our Action Alerts page.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to help protect South Dakota's mountain lions!
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The Mountain Lion Foundation, founded in 1986, is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habitat.
We believe that mountain lions are in peril.
Our nation is on the verge of destroying this apex species upon which whole ecosystems depend. Hunting mountain lions is morally unjustified, and killing lions to prevent conflicts is ineffective and dangerous.
There is a critical need to know more about the biology, behavior, and ecology of mountain lions, and governments should base decisions upon truthful science, valid data, and the highest common good. Conserving critical lion habitat is essential.