Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SD Mountain Lion Season Hearing Oct 3rd, Spearfish

Please comment on the
SDGFP proposed cougar hunting season for 2013-2014

Folks can send written comments in before or go to the hearing at
Spearfish's Holiday Inn Express (exit 14 off I-90)
on Thursday, Oct 3rd, 2013  at 2 pm


A report from the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) is on the Agenda for 1 pm.  Their report will also be posted on a state web page at about 1 pm.  The WMI is a private consultant, hired to do an independent review and report on SD's big game management. Their e-mail address: SDcomments@wildlifemgt.org.  Here is a link to their contract: http://gfp.sd.gov/agency/information/docs/WMI_contract.pdf
We have no idea what they will say, but it is possible that their report has findings not consistent with SD GFP staff recommendations or theories about cougars for the past eight years and that this report could be an agent for change to SD's cougar management, with either positive or negative impact for cougars.


We always hope that wildlife advocates will show up and testify. We are never sure if our testimony will result in immediate change to the pending cougar season, but the WMI report is a "wild card" for 2013 hearing. If friends of cougars show up  - we continue to present pro-cougar arguments, establish cougar advocates as a permanent voice, will effect press coverage, will reach some of the Commissioners, will meet new advocates/friends, may prevent worse direction, and may effect long term change.

Public testimony will begin at 2 pm.


You may send in written comments  (with your city/state address included)
 to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501; or email wildinfo@state.sd.us or Chuck Schlueter <Chuck.Schlueter@state.sd.us>

The "de-facto" deadline for commenting is before noon (Central Time) on Wednesday, October 2nd. At this time the GFP staff posts all comments received by them, to their web site for review by public and Commissioners.

The "legal" deadline for written comment (as set by SD statute) is the close of the hearing, which will be after 2 pm on Thursday Oct 3rd.  These hearings generally last at least an hour.  Any other deadlines mentioned by GFP in notices are "suggested" deadlines, not the legal deadline.  Statute requires them to fully consider written comments received, however comments received by e-mail or postal mail, in the last 24 hours, might not be seen by the Commission before they make their decision, but will be in the legal record. To improve chances that
comments received in last hours, are read before the decision, - you may also wish to send directly to each Commissioner's e-mail. These e-mail addresses are provided at


To view the full proposals on those seasons, visit http://gfp.sd.gov/agency/commission/default.aspx and look under the "rule proposals" heading.



The proposal 's quota is a reduced from last year's quota of 100 either sex (or 70 females), to 75 either sex (or 50 females).  In Custer State Park they wish to increase the number of hunting intervals when hunters can use dogs and decrease the number of hunting intervals without dogs. In the prairie unit (outside Black Hills Fire Protection District) the hunt remains unlimited and year round.

 SDGFP 1 hour-long report to Commission on cougars for 2013-2014:
GFP's estimate for 2014 is 230 lions all ages, which is comprised of 160 adults & sub-adults and 72 kittens. A recreational kill of 75 SD lions is 32% of the SD lions all ages and 46% kill of adult and sub-adult SD lions in Black Hills.  Wyoming (which we estimate by eye-balling maps showing trees -- has about two fifths of the Black Hills/Bearlodge habitat) will allow, for the next 3 years, a recreational kill of 61 lions each year in the majority of its Black Hills/Bear Lodge area, with an unlimited take in habitat areas on the edges of Black Hills, such as Elk Mountain.  Wyoming allows hound hunting and there will be territorial and home range overlap of lions across SD and Wyoming state boundaries, so some SD lions will be exposed to hound hunting when they are in Wyoming.

Various people criticize the SDGFP population estimates for many reasons, often claiming they are too high or just not reliable.  However assuming estimates are correct, with this allowable hunter kill, in both Wyoming and SD, both states individually & jointly are managing their lion population(s) as a "sink".


We suggest that people watch a You-tube video on Washington State cougar research. In 1995 Washington State voters passed an initiative banning hound hunting of lions (effective as of 1996).  The State responded with increasing levels of hunting allowed via the boot hunt. Eventually recreational hound hunting of cougars was allowed in very small areas with small quota to address "problem lions" and a pilot project area was allowed to have hound hunting for 4 years, in a quarter of Washington State area.

Washington State researchers did extensive research and proved that in Washington State's aggressive recreational hunting of cougars did not bring about the expected/anticipated results due to the increase in younger male lions in the lion population. After all this research, Washington State believes in an "equilibrium hunt"; a 14% recreational kill of adult/sub-adult is the appropriate hunting strategy.  As a result the State of Washington has created 49 cougar hunting units, and if the recreational kill in any unit exceeds 16% of either the adult females, sub-adult females, adult males or sub-adult males, the hunt in that unit is closed.
To watch the video about Washington state research:


We realize that our mailing lists have many people of many values.  Each person should testify or write, what they personally believe and in a way consistent with their values. Comments can be simple expression of feelings or wishes.  However if folks want some sound bytes, we suggest that people write or testify before the Commission to some or all of the following:

1. Manage the SD lion population either as a "stable "or "source" population.
To manage as "stable" (assuming GFP cougar population estimate is correct) a 14% take, would be a "harvest threshold" of 22 adult and sub adult lions.  If you wish it managed as a source, the recreational kill harvest threshold" would need to be even lower - lower than 22 either sex.

2.  Allow no recreational hunting of lions on the Prairie.  Especially allow no recreational hunting in SD's Pine Ridge area north of Nebraska's Pine Ridge Unit.

3. Assure that any decision allowing hunting of lions in SD's jurisdiction within the checkerboard areas of tribal & non-tribal land is predicated with documented consultation with tribe(s).

4. Extend the boundary of habitat managed for mountain lions north and east of the Black Hills Fire Protection district to include the Cheyenne and Belle Fourche Rivers, with the endpoint at their confluence.

5.  Divide the Black Hills (and the proposed northeastern extension) into smaller lion hunt units, which could have different harvest thresholds and seasons. Create a unit along the Wyoming Border where no hunting is allowed, to compensate for Wyoming's over-harvest

6. Revoke or reduce hound hunting in Custer State Park due to the "fair chase" issue and concern for animal welfare (both lions and dogs).

7. Increase the cost of lion hunting license to $100 per each license.

8. Object to the justification of killing of lions in order to maximize the number of common and/or non-native herbivore prey animals hunters can shoot.

9. Suggest the term "quota" be exchanged for "harvest threshold".


No rule is final till a legislative committee - the Interim Rules Review Committee (IRRC) - passes it forward. This year's rule making, will go to the Committee in mid November (11/12/13). Last year the IRRC rejected and turned back the SDGFP's plan for the Rocky Mt Sheep season, so the IRRC has recently rejected a season. Cougar advocates may contest the season before the IRRC, and people may send in comments to the IRRC. We will provide details on that later.

Also visit:

Cougar Fund

Mountain Lion Foundation

Cougar Rewilding Foundation