Mountain Lion Survey Results Available

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South Dakota’s first mountain lion hunting season lasted just 24 days and, consequently, some hunters who had licenses saw the season end before they had a chance at the big cats.

However, according to a recently released Game, Fish and Parks survey, 69 percent of all hunters with mountain lion licenses were satisfied with the way the first season was conducted.

The survey is one of three from Game, Fish and Parks Planning Coordinator/Human Dimensions Specialist Larry Gigliotti that includes information about the first mountain lion hunting season

"We had some very specific information we wanted to learn from our inaugural mountain lion hunting season," Gigliotti said. "We also had surveys for Black Hills Elk and Black Hills Deer hunters in the works. Since these hunters played an important role in that hunting season, we decided to include a couple of questions on mountain lion hunting in those surveys as well."

Seventy-eight percent of Black Hills deer hunters favored the way the mountain lion season was conducted compared to a favorable rating from just over half of elk hunters.

Elk season and mountain lion season started on the same day and, according to Gigliotti, there was some concern about one detracting from or overshadowing the other. Survey results, however, show that was not the case. More than 60 percent of elk hunters said the mountain lion hunting season had a neutral impact on elk hunting and more than 20 percent said it had a positive impact.

Similarly, survey data shows that Black Hills deer hunters have positive attitudes toward mountain lions and support having a healthy, managed mountain lion population.

The positive attitude from deer hunters is important because the 2006 mountain lion season will start on Nov. 1, the same day as the Black Hills deer season. Last year 2,294 hunters were licensed to hunt mountain lions. According to Gigliotti, the Game, Fish and Parks Department estimates that in 2006, as many as 3,500 Black Hills deer hunters are likely to also purchase mountain lion hunting licenses.

While mountain lion hunters were largely pleased with that season, so were the hunters with licenses for Black Hills deer. More than 80 percent of resident Black Hills deer hunters said they were satisfied with the experience. Nonresident hunters’ satisfaction topped 90 percent.

The deer hunting survey is in its 11th year. Ten years ago the season underwent a radical change that limited the number of licenses. According to Gigliotti, survey data shows that the change helped lessen hunter crowding during the deer season with 66 percent of respondents in 2005 rating the number of hunters as "just right."

Elk hunters, according to survey data, didn’t have the same level of satisfaction. Sixty percent of hunters were satisfied with the 2005 elk season, down from a rating of almost 80 percent in 2001. The survey shows that elk hunters in 2005 reported seeing on average fewer elk than those who responded to a survey in 2001 and they also perceived a greater degree of hunter crowding.

Copies of the 2005 Mountain Lion Season Evaluation, Black Hills Elk Hunter Survey and Black Hills Deer Hunter Survey may be obtained from Larry Gigliotti, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501 or by e-mailing [email protected].