Photo of lion in snow by Valerie. Text: Action Alert, tell South Dakota lower the quota, no hounds, no out of state hunters. Progress!


On Thursday (October 1st), the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission decided on whether or not to make changes to mountain lion hunting policies in the state. Specifically, they lowered the quota — a step in the right direction, but still not enough to actually protect lions. And thankfully, they decided to wait at least two more years to possibly allow out of state visitors to hunt lions. Thank you to everyone who contacted the commission and urged them to vote for the lower quotas, and vote against nonresident hunts and hound hunting.

OUTCOME: We're Making Progress in South Dakota!

The South Dakota Game Commission voted to reduce the 2016 Black Hills mountain lion hunting quota to 60 lions from the previous year's 75. The state has an unfortunate tradition of ever-increasing lion quotas; so a decision to lower them is new and refreshing.

Some conservationists see this action as a first move by the Commission in recognizing that the lion population in the Black Hills has been over hunted. Opponents claim that the last two years of dismal hunting results are more a factor of bad hunting conditions (lack of snow) rather than a lack of lions.

In addition, the Commission decided to postpone for two years the agency's revenue making scheme of commercializing mountain lion hunting with out of state trophy hunters.


MLF is forming a coalition to protect mountain lions in South Dakota. If you'd like participate and be contacted about volunteer opportunities, please sign up here, and be sure to check the box that says "Contact me about volunteer opportunities."

Together, we can save the American lion!


The Game Commission will finalize changes to the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 mountain lion hunting seasons at their upcoming meeting. Specifically, the proposed amendments would:

  • reduce the harvest limit (hunt quota)in the Black Hills Fire Protection District (including Custer State Park) from 50 females or 75 total lions to 40 females or 60 total lions
  • authorize the issuance of 250 nonresident mountain lion hunting licenses (excluding Custer)
  • establish a nonresident mountain lion hunting license at a fee of $121
  • Custer State Park 14-day hunting intervals would be decreased from 4 to 3, and the number of access permits would be decreased from 30 to 15 per hunting interval. For intervals during which dog hunting is allowed, the number of access permits would be decreased from 4 to 3

While parts of this plan are a great step in the right direction, allowing nonresidents (people living outside South Dakota) to come into the state to hunt lions is a dangerous and terrible idea. Please take a moment to call or email the Commission and urge them to lower hunting quotas, stop the use of hounds, and to not allow nonresident mountain lion hunting.

Photo of lion kitten caught in leg-hold trap.
Hunting guides utilize hounds to guarantee their high-paying nonresident clients get to shoot a lion. The average South Dakota resident hunter can't compete.

To Contact the Commissioners:

click here for Commissioners' phone and email addresses

Here's What to Say

In your email, please point out:

  • All mountain lion hunting should be stopped until we know the health of the lion breeding population in South Dakota, and the health of the populations in neighboring states expected to provide dispersing lions into our state.
  • Allowing out of state hunters will commercialize South Dakota's wildlife, over-exploiting an extremely limited natural resource.
  • A few hunting guides may get rich from allowing nonresident hunting, at the expense of South Dakota residents and local hunters.
  • Sport hunting increases conflicts for local residents through increased depredation and potentially dangerous encounters with young transient lions.
  • Hounding has been banned in two-thirds of the United States. This is an archaic and cruel practice for both wild animals and domestic dogs that should be banned in our state.

Please also send MLF a copy of your letter and cc emails to Thank you!

Able to Attend in Person?

Speaking to the Game Agency face-to-face is much, much more effective than sending an email. So if you are able to attend the meeting, please do so.

WHEN: Thursday, October 1 at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Spearfish Holiday Inn Convention Center, 305 North 27th St, Spearfish

Pass It On

Please share this action alert with your friends and family through email and social media. Forward this page to your South Dakota friends and consider sharing it on Facebook.

More Info: Why Nonresident Hunting Should Not be Allowed

Private long term economic investment in mountain lion take increases as a result of hound hunting, out of state hunters, use of guides, outfitters and private hunting ranches.

Out of state hunting combined with the use of hounds will decimate South Dakota's lion population.

South Dakota game officials and residents have stated in the past they do not want "out of staters" telling South Dakota how we should manage our mountain lions. But by allowing nonresident hunting, the state will be doing exactly that.

Nonresident hunting will commercialize and incentivize the killing of South Dakota lions. This extremely limited natural resource will quickly become over exploited. A handful of guides and hunting ranches will profit, but the rest of the state will have to pay to cost.

More Info: Why Lions Should Not be Hunted with Hounds

Hounding is an inhumane and outdated blood sport. Shooting an exhausted and frightened animal out of a tree is unethical hunting and it has no place in modern wildlife management or recreation. Hounding has been banned in two-thirds of the United States. It is a waste of time for South Dakota to even consider instating the practice statewide.

Photo of lion in a snowy pine tree.

Using hounds violates all claims of "fair chase" and ultimately does not protect cubs.

Through our efforts to protect mountain lions from sport hunting in the United States, the Foundation has conducted extensive research on the statement that allowing the use of hounds makes hunters more selective: letting females and juveniles go and only shooting depredating cats or trophy-sized adult males. However, a review of 30 years of records from game managers throughout the western United States found that although technically feasible, most hunters could not tell the size and sex of an animal up a tree.

Furthermore, of the hunters who claimed to be selective and said they would let smaller and female animals go free, less than 30 percent actually did so. Hounding an animal is sometimes an all day event: following the hounds for hours on end, over rugged terrain, until they finally wear out the lion and it seeks refuge up a tree. After the excitement and exhaustion (and hefty expense if a professional guide was used), more than 70 percent of hunters shoot the first animal they tree, regardless of age, size, or sex.

Hound hunting guides make good money and are a very vocal group. But make no mistake, this is an archaic and cruel practice for both wild animals and domestic dogs that should be banned in our state.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to help protect South Dakota's mountain lions!

About the Mountain Lion Foundation

The Mountain Lion Foundation, founded in 1986, is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habitat. The mountain lion is also known as cougar, puma, panther, and catamount.

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.

Together, we can save America's lion.

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