Through Feb. 22, South Dakota hunters reported killing 30 mountain lions in the Black Hills this season, including 16 female lions. The maximums set by the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission for the Black Hills season are 75 total or 50 females, with the season closing March 31 if one of those limits isn’t reached first. The Black Hills season opened Dec. 26. Two big lions were taken on that first day, a 151-pound male estimated at 10 years old in Custer County, and a 102-pound female estimated at eight years old in Pennington County.
Unless the pace speeds up dramatically, it seems questionable that either limit will be reached in the six weeks left. The count by counties so far for the Black Hills fire protection district season are Custer eight, Pennington 11, Meade three and Lawrence eight.
Four other lions have been reported to GFP so far as killed this season. Three are kills by hunters outside the Black Hills district’s boundaries, in what’s known as the year-round prairie season. They were in Bennett, Lawrence and Butte counties. A nine-month-old male was killed by a vehicle in Pennington.
The 2014 season saw hunters take 53 lions in the Black Hills district (22 males and 31 females). The previous harvests for the Black Hills seasons were 61 in 2013; 73 in 2012; 49 in 2011; 40 in 2010; and 26 in 2009.