Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Photo of landsacape.


Outside the Black Hills, landowners on their own land can kill a lion year-round and it doesn't count toward the hunting quota.

In the box below you will find all the governing state statutes, mountain lion legal status, state laws, information about the state legislature, initiative and referendum processes, and the state wildlife agency, mountain lion management plans, mountain lion hunting laws, depredation laws, and other regulations as appropriate.

  • Return to the portal page for South Dakota.

  • The status of Puma concolor in South Dakota.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in South Dakota.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in South Dakota.

  • Cougar science and research in South Dakota.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

South Dakota Cougar Laws and Regulations

Generally, treatment of wildlife in the State of South Dakota is governed by the South Dakota Codified Laws -- the collection of all current laws passed by the state legislature. Since our summary below may not be completely up to date, you should be sure to review the most current law for the State of South Dakota.

You can check the statutes directly at a state-managed website:

These statutes are searchable. Be sure to use the name "mountain lion" to accomplish your searches.

The Legislature

The South Dakota Legislature is a part-time, bicameral state legislature. The lower chamber -- the House of Representatives -- is made up of 70 members who serve 2-year terms. The Republican Party has controlled the South Dakota House of Representatives since at least 1992. The upper chamber -- the Senate -- consists of 35 members who also serve 2-year terms. The Republican Party has controlled the South Dakota Senate since 1995. Members of both chambers are limited to four terms. If you do not know who your state legislators are, the state maintains this website: Who Are My Legislators to help you find your legislators. If you already know who your legislators are, you can contact them using the House of Representatives Roster and the Senate Roster.

The South Dakota Constitution requires the state legislature to convene regular sessions at noon on the second Tuesday of January each year. The state constitution does not limit the duration of regular sessions, but the legislature generally adjourns in late March. The governor may call special sessions of either chamber or the legislature as a whole. The legislature may also call itself into special sessions upon the written request of two-thirds of the members of each house. There is no limit on the length of special sessions, but the legislature may use the session to conduct business on the subject for which it was convened.

Click here to visit the scorecard's website...

Environmental Scorecard

League of Conservation Voters

The League of Conservation Voters' scorecard considers the State Legislature's environmental records since 1971. It quantifies the environmental votes of each individual legislator — an important first step in considering accountability — and provides critical qualitative assessments as well. The scorecard will help you to know your legislator before you write a letter in support of cougars.

Click here to view our Activist Guide...

Becoming a Mountain Lion Activist

There are lots of opportunities to take action!

Are you new to mountain lion activism? You want to change your local environment to improve it for cougars... but you don't know how to start. You may feel like you are all alone... but it takes just one person to change the attitudes and lifestyles of hundreds of others. You don't need to belong to a group. It doesn't take special skills or superhuman abilities. You just need to care enough about cougars to want to help them survive. You've already done the hard part, now let us help you with the next step.

Click here to open a new window and visit the agency's website...

South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks

Commonly abbreviated as: SDGFP

Tony Leif, Director of Wildlife

Main Office:
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
523 East Capitol Ave
Pierre, SD 57501
(605) 223-7660

Please write to the director and express your concern for lions in South Dakota.

Thank the agency when they take steps to protect our state's cougars. When they fall short of expectations, politely ask for policy reform and more officer training.



The Mountain Lion Foundation is a tax-deductible non-profit organization, tax exempt under
Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code (Federal I.D. # 94-3015360)

Copyright 1988-2020. Material produced by the Mountain Lion Foundation is protected under copyright laws. Permission to rebroadcast or duplicate is granted for non-commercial use when the Mountain Lion Foundation is credited.