Mountain Lion Hunting Season Proposed

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South Dakota will have a restricted mountain lion hunting season from Oct. 1 through Dec. 15 if a recent Game, Fish and Parks Commission proposal is finalized at next month’s commission meeting in Pierre.

The open area would include two units. The Black Hills unit would include portions of the Black Hills lying south and west of Interstate 90, west of Highway 79 and north of the Cheyenne River, excluding Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the fenced portion Custer State Park. Unlimited resident-only licenses would be available for a harvest limit that would be set at 30 mountain lions of any sex and age, or six female mountain lions of breeding age.

The western prairie unit would include most areas west of the Missouri River, except the area included in the Black Hills unit. Licenses in this unit would be available to landowners and valid only for their own property. One license would be allowed per farm/ranch household. No harvest limit would be set for this unit.

According to GFP Wildlife Program Administrator Tony Leif, such a hunting season is supported by biological data collected from the past 20 years of monitoring mountain lions in South Dakota.

"Monitoring results indicate the Black Hills can support a population of approximately 145 mountain lions, and documented dispersal of mountain lions out of the Black Hills strongly indicates that the population is above this level," Leif said. "The recommended harvest limit is derived from the estimated size and composition of the population and documented rate of mountain lion deaths and births." He added that breeding-age female mountain lions would be least susceptible to harvest during this season structure because of their tendency to stay in remote areas and travel less than males and adolescent females.

Season requirements and restrictions would include:

* Mountain lions with spotted coats (kittens) and any mountain lion accompanying other mountain lions with spotted coats may not be harvested.

* A person may have only one mountain lion license and harvest only one mountain lion in a season.

* All harvested mountain lions must be presented to the GFP Rapid City Regional Office within 24 hours of harvest for inspection and pelt tagging.

* The mountain lion season in both units ends one-half hour after sunset on Dec. 15.

* A person may not hunt with the aid of dogs, bait or traps.

* Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

* A person may use any firearm, muzzleloader or bow and arrow established as legal for taking big game.

* The fee for a mountain lion license is $15.

To comment on the proposals, people can attend the public hearing at 2 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 4, at The Ramkota in Pierre, or write Game, Fish and Parks, 523 E. Capitol, Pierre, S.D. 57501. E-mail comments can be sent to wildinfo@state.sd.us Comments must include full name and address.