GF&P 50-lion limit proposal higher than staff recommends

2010-08-06T21:00:00Z GF&P 50-lion limit proposal higher than staff recommendsKevin Woster, Journal staff Rapid City Journal
August 06, 2010 9:00 pm  • 

For the second straight year, the state Game, Fish & Parks Commission is proposing a mountain lion season that would kill more cats than its staff recommended.

Meeting in Aberdeen on Friday, the commission proposed a 2011 lion season that would allow hunters to kill 50 lions overall, five of which could be taken in Custer State Park. The GF&P biological staff on Thursday recommended a total lion limit of 45, including five in the new park hunt. The staff also recommended that the use of lion hounds be allowed by hunters in the park hunt only.

The commission agreed to propose the season in the park as recommended by its staff, with a total of five lions taken there and allowing the use of hounds. But it proposed an increase in the limit of lions taken outside the park from 40 to 45, bringing the total to 50. It also proposed an increase from the staff recommendation on the sub-limit on female lions from 25 to 30.

Under the commission proposal, the 2011 season would end when a total of 50 lions or 30 females were killed, whichever came first.

GF&P Commissioner John Cooper of Pierre said Friday that the commission decided unanimously to propose the higher lion limit in an attempt to reduce the lion population to a targeted level of 175 within 18 months to two years. The original staff recommendation was predicted to have reached that goal within three to four years.

“We worked with the staff today to shape a commission proposal to reach that target population sooner,” Cooper said.

The GF&P staff recently reduced its estimate of the lion population from 250 to 225, in part because hunters in the 2010 season earlier this year killed 40 lions, the most since the season began in 2005. The target population identified in a draft GF&P lion management plan is 175.

Cooper said that population target was reached through of review of lion data, ongoing research and public opinions collected during a series of meetings on lion management.

“We’ve been contacted by just about every interest group there is on this,” Cooper said. “We’re trying to be responsible to the social aspects, but we’re really trying to make sure our decision is based on science.”

Some big-game hunters have argued for several years that lions are hurting deer and elk populations in the Hills. And some landowners and homeowners have complained about lions threatening or killing livestock or wandering into housing areas.

The GF&P Commission responded in 2009 by going beyond its staff recommendation of 35 lions overall or 20 females to set a 2010 season limit of 40 lions overall or 25 females. The 2010 season began Jan. 1 and ended when the 40th lion was killed on Feb. 10.

The 2011 season would begin on Jan. 1 and run through March 31, but end sooner if the overall limit or female limit were reached.

Critics argue that GF&P is hitting the lion population too hard and is overly responsive to hunting groups. Cooper said the commission is committed to managing for a sustainable lion population, but at a lower level.

“We truly have to manage for a sustainable population,” he said. “That’s one of our big jobs as a department and a commission. And we take it seriously.”

Citizens will have two months to consider and comment on the 2011 season proposal. The commission will take final action to set the season during its next meeting, Oct. 7 and 8, at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge near Lead. There will be a public hearing allowing comments on the proposal before the final vote.

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or


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(12) Comments

  1. roscos
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    roscos - August 18, 2010 11:04 pm
    I have hunted mountain lions both ways, with the aid of hounds and without. I would have to say that hunting cats with the use of hounds is way more sporting than the basic old call and shoot method. I am in no way saying that this is not a sporting means of hunting mountain lions but I find it amusing that someone that hunts mountain lions would downgrade another means of hunting. All I can say is if you haven't hunted mountain lions behind a couple well trained hounds, maybe you should give it a try before you criticize the method that one chooses to hunt.
  2. Papalittle
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    Papalittle - August 07, 2010 1:45 pm
    RedLeg6 said: "I still advocate open season on mountain lions. They will always be around. I do not support the use of hounds."

    You mean just like the buffalo and the black hills black bears? Get a clue.
  3. xjess
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    xjess - August 07, 2010 12:55 pm
    ripoff said on: August 6, 2010, 10:35 pm
    "JFC, GF&P! Kill more lions before the elk population is completely decimated. Get a clue, please!"

    I really don't understand this way of thinking..
    What exactly are these mountain lions supposed to eat if you don't want them to eat elk or deer? The thought of mountain lion season makes me want to vomit. Killing these beautiful animals for pure sport..because the majority of people get a thrill out of taking the life of something smaller than they are? Everyone seems to think that animal populations need to be controlled..when is the time going to come that we have human population control. God knows we need that. We are doing more harm than any animal I can think of.
  4. RedLeg6
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    RedLeg6 - August 07, 2010 10:12 am
    I still advocate open season on mountain lions. They will always be around. I do not support the use of hounds.
  5. Jonnnn
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    Jonnnn - August 07, 2010 8:39 am
    The GF&P hierarchy over-riding staff recommendations to kill, kill, kill is no surprise. The GF&P is less a natural resources agency and more a land-owner captured wildlife killing agency.

    The "problem" the GF&P has with their own harsh criminal trespass law with using hounds to hunt lions was predictable; and shows one additional detrimental consequence of GF&P's caving in to the modern lords of the land.
  6. jamesjunior
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    jamesjunior - August 07, 2010 8:16 am
    Lets get real. A raise proposal to a 50 lion limit in 2011 on a statewide lion population of under 300 animals, mostly concentrated in the Black Hills, only accommodates the interests of sport hunters not food hunters. Even though lions can be eaten I don't think many lions find their way to the family supper table. Yah, hunting is fun just like fishing and I too enjoy hunting and fishing both but there are not enough lions to make such a big deal out of the lion hunt. Food for the table better justifies killing an animal then just plain fun of killing. Wasn't last years quota enough? And the use of dogs to make the hunt easier? That just adds to the sport hunters ease. They let the dogs so most of the work then they walk up to a treed lion and shoot it out of the tree. Come on now, if sport hunters are going to harvest lions then at least they must work for their prey even if that means walking ten miles through fifteen inches of snow up and down the Black Hills on a daily basis. Don't make it easy for them. If they are going to use dogs for the lion hunt I at least want to shoot my deer from the window of my car. It's the same principle.
    Just a side thought. Lions have never killed a person in SD and only a couple dozen people nation wide since America began two and a half centuries ago. Lions do occasionally take dogs and cats or even once and a while a cow or a sheep but automobiles take a lot more of our domesticated animals and dogs kill a lot more of our children then lions. Lions are also not decimating the deer herd or that would have occurred over centuries of time not just recently. Sounds like a spin to me.
    I propose stopping the lion hunt altogether on less then 300 animals state wide and allow GF&P's regulate the lion population by live trapping a few lions a year and making them available to the worlds zoos and other selected animal interest groups for a price. Let the state get the monetary benefit from selling lions.
  7. interested_party
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    interested_party - August 07, 2010 7:47 am
    Predators sustain diversity by helping to manage the ungulates that browse aspen shoots growing to replace beetle-killed pine.

    It is unfortunate that South Dakota voters remain unwilling to fund state government without relying on xenism as an economic development tool.
  8. rcdakota
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    rcdakota - August 07, 2010 7:16 am
    roscos said: "I am glad that the gf&p is finally recognizing the use of hounds as a way of harvesting mountain lions. Almost every other western state that allows the hunting of mountain lions also allows the use of hounds. I think this method will allow the hunter to be more selective in the taking of a mountain lion."

    And this I see as a problem. Hound hunters will only kill males leaving the females to continue to reproduce. There has been no problems reaching the limit half way through the season without dogs. All dogs do is ruin it for those of us who prefer to actually hunt on our own skills and not a dogs. Using dogs is not hunting, nor harvesting. It's just killing. Using dogs is lazy, it's like shooting deer out your car window on a highway.
  9. Oldhunter
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    Oldhunter - August 07, 2010 4:49 am
    There would always be lions in the Black Hills if you made it an open season with no limit.. Remember how many years that there were lion "sightings" and "denials?" Then look how the lion population just Exploded!
  10. Theoneisgod
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    Theoneisgod - August 07, 2010 2:41 am
    GF&P and others have spent so much time and effort in painting lions as so dangerous they must be killed, that they have even convinced themselves and will not listen to thier own staff! Hutting with dogs is a good change. I also think they should hammer the guys that kill females with kittens. Prosocute them to the fullest fine and jail time!
  11. ripoff
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    ripoff - August 06, 2010 10:35 pm
    JFC, GF&P! Kill more lions before the elk population is completely decimated. Get a clue, please!
  12. roscos
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    roscos - August 06, 2010 10:35 pm
    I am glad that the gf&p is finally recognizing the use of hounds as a way of harvesting mountain lions. Almost every other western state that allows the hunting of mountain lions also allows the use of hounds. I think this method will allow the hunter to be more selective in the taking of a mountain lion.
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