South Dakota will allow trophy hunters to kill 30 percent of its mountain lions

The commission also voted to extend the hunting season by an
additional month, through April of each year, and they increased
the number of permits in Custer State Park, where hunters can use
hounds to hunt mountain lions. Photo by Jim Zuckerman/Alamy Stock
Photo

South Dakota has a notorious history of mismanaging its mountain
lion population and playing into the hands of trophy hunters. In
past years, the Mount Rushmore state has repeatedly increased its
hunting quota for the animals, despite evidence that its lion
population is on the decline. But this week, the state surpassed
its own sordid record when it voted to approve a trophy hunting
quota of 60 mountain lions for both the 2019 and 2020 hunting
seasons — a move that will put a whopping 30 percent or more of
the state’s lion population under the gun.

The state’s Game, Fish and Parks Commission is not only
continuing to trot out the tired old excuse of livestock conflicts
– a rationale that has been
debunked by HSUS researchers
and by scientists – but it is
now also openly admitting that its new management plan allows for
the greatest trophy hunting opportunity possible: the state’s
plan this year lists maximizing “recreational hunting
opportunities” as a primary objective for managing mountain
lions.

The commission also voted to extend the hunting season by an
additional month, through April of each year, and they increased
the number of permits in Custer State Park, where hunters can use
hounds to hunt mountain lions. Hounding is a terrible practice, in
which packs of dogs fitted with GPS collars track down, chase and
corner a lion. Minutes later, the trophy hunter arrives and shoots
the animal at close range, usually off a tree branch or rock ledge.
The dogs then pounce on her, sometimes finishing her off, leaving
orphaned kittens to starve and die — deaths that are never
counted. It’s the cruelest possible scenario, with no mercy for
an innocent animal who’s simply trying to survive in the
wild.

This year, for the first time, the commission also considered a
proposal allowing trophy hunters from other states to come into
South Dakota to kill its lions. Thankfully, it was not approved.
Earlier this year,
we reported
that the same commission introduced an appallingly
ill-conceived “Nest Predator Bounty Program,” which rewards
residents with a $10 bounty for the tails of native wildlife
species they’ve killed—and even provided thousands of free
traps to aid in the killing. The program recently wrapped up with a
horrifying count of
54,460 tails
of raccoons, opossums, red foxes, striped skunks
and badgers. This mountain lion slaughter is just another example
of the commission’s failure to manage its wildlife.

The majority of South Dakota’s mountain lions live in the
state’s Black Hills, although these large cats are frequently
shot and killed throughout the rest of the state, with unlimited
hunting and no knowledge of the population size outside of the
Black Hills. According to the most recent population estimates,
there are just 203 mountain lions old enough to be legally hunted
now residing in the Black Hills. Hunting 30 percent of this
population could not only threaten the survival of the species in
the state, it can also worsen livestock conflicts.

Our experts have repeatedly presented the commission and state
wildlife agency with numerous studies showing that hunting mountain
lions, especially at such high rates, can increase conflicts with
humans, pets and livestock. When adult mountain lions are removed
from a population, the disruption causes social chaos in their
society and younger males, naturally less skilled at hunting, are
more likely to be involved in human and livestock conflicts.
Nonlethal tools and strategies to protect livestock, such as
penning animals at night and using light or sound deterrents, are
far more effective than relying on hunting and predator control to
manage mountain lions.

Mountain lions are a beleaguered species, and the threats
against them, including habitat loss, poaching and hunting, are on
the rise. A 2017 HSUS report found that trophy hunters have killed
as many as 78,000 mountain lions in our country over the past three
decades. Hunting groups like
Safari Club International
have exacerbated the problem by
promoting the killing of lions for trophies. The group’s award
categories like the “North American 29,” “Cats of the
World” and “Trophy Animals of North America” include mountain
lions.

Methods used to kill them are among the cruelest: most mountain
lions are killed either with the aid of hounds or by trapping with
cruel steel-jawed leghold traps and wire neck or leg snares. Of the
14 states that allow the trophy hunting of mountain lions, 12
permit hounding.

Our nation needs to move away from such archaic and terrible
practices. Instead of pandering to a handful of people who want to
kill these beautiful animals for bragging rights, South Dakota
wildlife officials should be working to find the best ways to
preserve their precious native wildlife for generations to come.
The path the state has now chosen leads nowhere beyond a trophy
hunter’s living room.

The post
South Dakota will allow trophy hunters to kill 30 percent of its
mountain lions
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Source: FS – Pets – A Humane Nation
South Dakota will allow trophy hunters to kill 30 percent of its mountain lions