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

By on October 9, 2019 with 51 Comments

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 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 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.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Daniel O'Brien says:

    I’m out I demand you stop this right now. It is unacceptable to hunt all these top Predators and I demand you cancel this mountain lion season right now and leave them alone to hunt in peace or you’re going to be in so much trouble. We need to learn the top predators keep ecosystems and balance when they cut for their prey so stop this hunting right now and cancel it immediately. Shame on all of you hunting killers.

    • Carol Carson says:

      I have found the private telephone # for Tony Leif, Director, Division of Wildlife for South Dakota, 650-773-4518. I left a message. Carol Carson

      • Toni Mello says:

        Thank You!

        • Karen says:

          Humans are the vermin in this world. We should be stewards of our planet, ecosystems,wildlife ,and all living species. By allowing this absurd massacre to happen you are only damaging our planet and ecosystems. You make this decision as if you are God. Well sir, you are not God and you have no right to take away our wildlife species that we need for healthy ecosystems. These cats and other species have every right to live out their lives. They too have an intrinsic value which may be more valuable then some of the hunters you allow to kill them. Other people who want to protect these species have a right to stop this massacre yet you choose to ignore their wishes. Cattle are not indigenous to this continent and have produced more carbon gas than cars in this nation and you want to kill off 30% of a species that IS indigenous to this continent so that more cattle can graze causing more carbon and contributing to more greenhouse gases that are causing climate changes and horrific storms killing and disrupting many human and other species lives. This Sir, is not the behavior of a concerned human who gives a s*** about anything other than the money lining your pocket from the Cattlemans association. And other groups such as. I have become a vegetarian because of the I’ll practices and species exterpations performed due to cattle grazing on our land. Hence th “Our Land” BLM land is public land and you are privatizing it for cattle grazing. This is disgraceful and all of you involved should be fined, and jailed for misuse and murdering!

      • Toni Mello says:

        It’s already full! Lol

      • Brad says:

        That was a California number

    • Nilene Parry says:

      Your plea will probably fall on deaf ears, but I pray that I am wrong. I feel as you do. Just stop already.

    • Nicole Binion says:


    • Charles Manly says:

      I agree. It is a disgrace. People are just cruel, mean and vicious. We extincted the wolf population and then we said, “oops”, and realize we made a huge mistake. Now, we are trying to bring them back. But, you can’t bring back the native population. They have to mix breeds and clone. Our national wildlife is precious. We need to learn to co-exist. Please stop mankinds wanton destruction caused by greed and uncivilized cruelty.

  2. carole block says:

    this is gross information. how can we stop this murder of our animals? thanks, Carole Block….

  3. Jane says:

    Trophy hunters are the worst. You just can’t rationalize with them because they are entitled assholes. They justify killing animals at every turn and they buddy up to elected officials.

    It’s been said many times before, but businesses of trophy hunters should be boycotted.

    • Desiree says:

      I agree 100%!! Trophy hunting shouldn’t HAVE to be boycotted because it should be illegal. It should be outlawed across our nation-preferably globally but, that won’t happen in my lifetime. I’ll be happy to start with the US on a federal law.

      • Carlos says:

        I believe she is stating boycott any business that is owned by a trophy hunter. Trophy hunters can only hunt if they have the financial resources to do so. Well, if they make their living as a doctor, dentist, real estate, business owner, then we should all boycott that business and hurt them in their wallet.

  4. Jill Coggan says:


  5. agnes nelson says:

    please stop killing wildlife you bust up the ecosystem when you do

    • Brian says:

      So do you live in house? Drive on paved roads? Walk on the sidewalk? Shop in a store? If you do any of those you are also responsible for “busting” the ecosystem. Remember, we are animals too. Animals kill other animals.

      • Stephen says:

        Your response proves the stupidity of people who try and justify trophy hunting. To suggest that everyone born into and living in society is just as responsible for the direct, intended, and cowardly, actions that kill wildlife, as those who support this is foolish.
        Humanity as a whole is responsible for the environment as a whole, you’re arguing guilt by association, but that’s a failed attempt to justify the direct actions of trophy hunting.

        • Karl Sundstrom says:

          The usual response from a trophy hunter is that it is his right to hunt as he wishes. Second Amendment and the rest of the self serving hogwash you get from these “real men” comes with that!
          In their egocentric minds they live in the 19th century,the robber barons of the wild with no restrictions placed upon them as they have the money to override the laws that the rest of us obey.
          South Dakota needs their money and has given them carte blanche to murder as they will. All I can say is that I hope they can be stopped once and for all. How this can be done in South Dakota remains to be seen. What a shallow minded bunch of politicians do there is beyond understanding unless as it was once said “Just follow the money!” Disgusting pigs all!

  6. Susan Jacobs says:

    Trophy hunters have got to be some of the most ruthless, power mad, inhumane members of our species. They make me ashamed to belong to the same species. Thank you for staying on the “front lines” to hold them accountable and for keeping us informed. We must be the voice for innocent animals. They are truly the most vulnerable of God’s creatures.

  7. Alvin A. Peterson says:

    Fish and Game in every State I’ve hunted, Wy., Colo., Idaho & Az. (For 72 years) have the finest men & women you could imagine. Very honest and exceptional character.

    • Mark Quick says:

      The finest? What about the USFW who buddy up with those rich trophy Hunters are Boone & Crockett and Safari Club International? They are speakers at their forums and events and then they go on hunting trips with the members. They are not honest. They get used by trophy hunters so they can push their own agendas. But those folks you call honest sure do enjoy those free meals and expensive trips they get invited to at the homes of those rich trophy hunters.

  8. Carole Stephan says:

    Killing the wildlife is horribly cruel and stupid! The animals are all part of the balance of Nature and to eliminate “natural predators” upsets that balance and causes big problems with all the flora and fauna! Stop the barbaric slaughter!

  9. Teresa lynch says:

    This is absolutely horrendous what is wrong with this government and their politicians to allow the extinction of these precious creatures the media needs to highlight this and the people who support it

  10. T Comrie says:

    Money grabbing crooks!

  11. Michele Jankelow says:

    Absolutely appalling primitive management!
    ….and these people make laws!!!! What atrocious individuals that should hang their heads in shame!

  12. Ginette Maisse says:

    Stop à la chasse

  13. Marilyn says:

    This has to be stopped.

  14. Thomas Houghtaling says:

    Sickening and Disgusting! Stop this bullshit!

  15. Dorothy Davis says:

    This week on Facebook, I was horrified to see three young boys from my area holding up the head of a beautiful, dead bull elk by the antlers…for the post execution photo opp. The young hunters and their adults were apopleptic with glee that the kiddies had taken down the gorgeous animal.
    Of course the odds were in favor of the kids with the guns.
    I am filled with rage…three against one…but, really, you can damned well bet there were backup adult gunners on site with rifles of their own to make certain the young boys got “their” gorgeous creature….who was just trying to survive.

  16. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Stoppen Sie um jeden Preis die Mörder.Es ist krank was Menschen machen.Mit welchem Recht.Wo ist die Gerechtigkeit?Die Schänder gehören bestraft!!!!

  17. Frances Leard says:

    These sick crazy cowards need to stop these killings and put laws in effect to stop this disgusting shootings of innocent animals. How many more petitions do we need to sign to stop this abuse?

    The animals have no chance against these trigger happy cowards. It’s a sin to see this happening. Sick laws and disgusting politicians.

  18. Wendy says:

    This is just sickening and out right awful. Stop putting a price on wildlife. Cougars, bears, wolves are not trophies they are wildlife that deserves the right to hunt and keep the balance that nature intended.

  19. Luc Embrechts says:

    Well trophy hunters claim they like nature. I think they DON T even understand nature. And CANADA really you got the price to let tropheehunters kill the last 25000 Polar bears. You used to be my dream. Well your government s…..

  20. Steve H says:

    Just another retarded state to avoid at all cost. Please take your tourist dollars elsewhere to spend.

  21. Sherri Anne Kamaka says:


  22. Mary Moore says:

    I will never understand why people get enjoyment out of killing animals in the wild. For what purpose, this is cruel and inhumane. Needless to say this state is not one I will visit. You’ve got blood on your hands from innocent animals.

  23. S. Schroeder says:

    HOW do we stop them if we don’t live there? What can we do that will make a difference… I want to know. I am sick of just commenting on social media. We need to take a STAND against hunting and trapping until it is no more. Any suggestions? Is there a petition to sign?

  24. T Comrie says:

    I presume a huge amount of dirty money is involved in this destructive plan?!?!

  25. Ellie Forrest says:

    There should be severe prison terms for any “human” who thinks it’s fun, yuk yuk, to murder animals.

  26. Brad says:

    While the love of animals is admirable, you guys are way off the mark. North Americans abundance of wildlife is a direct result of managed hunting. Billions of dollars collected from sportsmen supports and enhances habitat and protection.
    South Dakota’s mountain lion population far exceeds it’s holding capacity. Starving is not better than being hunted.

  27. Mark Johns says:

    I would very much like to see the statistics that justify the mountain lion hunt. A 30% kill is pretty drastic. Hunting through the spring is going to pretty much guarantee dead pregnant females or newly born cubs that will die without a mom. What if these hunters were hunted, killed and their children starve to death??????
    What totally disgusts me is that the really lazy ass hunter that needs dogs to track and chase the majestic creatures up a tree or corner it on a ledge and at his own pace get to the location and kill the lion at his own leisure. What a GREAT sportsman. Something to be so terribly proud of. Real bragging material for sure. What a joke.

  28. Carolyn Denton says:

    Horrible, sickening and disgraceful. Every time there’s a problem it seems that “Kill It ” is the answer.

  29. Barbara Tamayo says:

    Stop it! Stop it, now!

  30. Cathy McCormick says:

    South Dakota, you are sickening and disgusting to allow mountain lions to be hunted for trophies! WHAT A WASTE! In addition, allowing “hounding” nauseates me to no end! This is crap that a third-world country would do, not America! The lack of compassion towards our wildlife is a disgrace!

  31. Matthew Hughes says:

    Folks, both sides of the argument have merit unless you are ill informed.Fact is, no organizations conserve wildlife as hunting does. For the writer to simply state that a better control method is to pen livestock at night and use lights, I would remind all that predators do not hunt on small properties where they are vulnerable, so this is not a solution. A commercially viable ranching operation nowadays is way too large to pen all the animals at night, and if you do, you start to induce diseases by means of viruses and stress related respiratory issues. When that happens, the rancher will be blamed for malpractice and similar comments will be posted over and over, targeting the rancher and not the hunter. Visit the true wildlife areas of Africa where nature is still wild. Antelope or elephant populations that are too large to sustain in an area die due to starvation when the ecosystem can no longer sustain the overpopulation. The same holds true when the large predators are over populated. Failing which nature’s diseases take over to even the playing field. I wonder how many of the commentators have used a mouse trap in their lives? A balanced approach is necessary, and that does not mean 30% of the population(but I did not do the study to know for sure). I wonder who is going to take care of bambi, thumper and bluebird, if coyote alone is protected. I love wildlife and marvel at the big predators too, but ask that folks do more research. Commenting is easy, how about some positive solutions rather than simply stating stop. The floor is open.

    • Angela Pulzone says:

      I understand over population of a species causes the species to suffer and starve off. What l do not understand is the lack of common sense when it comes to banning nursing females from being hunted so that their cubs do not die horrific agonizing deaths!!!!

    • SAJ says:

      All a matter of perspective too. Would bet none of the commentators has ever seen a cougar in their life. (As in, in their yard) I don’t hunt, don’t eat meat. For all practical purposes you’d assume I would be anti hunting but I agree we do need to balance with hunting for the ecosystem’s sake. Also yes a cougar will attack livestock on any size property. I live on a steep foothill with a small herd of horses and a small flock of chickens. We cannot build a barn, simply impossible with the crooked land we have. They are hardy and healthy and the weather is mild Here though, barns create more health problems with horses than they are worth. We also live with cougars and spot them regularly in our neighborhood. One just the other day on our blacktop road. They sit and watch when grandkids are out. Make no mistake they are bold, but the situation up here is balanced for now. We have an abundance of wildlife, predator and prey. We’ve been simply lucky. The first death of 2 humans via a cougar happened recently, in WA and OR last year. A first for OR. So I hope we can be cautiously optimistic moving forward and rethink our situation. Also, you will not catch one if you do not use hounds. That’s a given. They are incredibly elusive. But that’s the only way to hunt one for the most part. If the hunter wants a preserved animal, they do not let the dogs “finish” off the cougar. I do believe the point is to kill them quickly and as humanely as possible. Whomever wrote this article is incredibly ignorant to the point of fabricating things.

  32. Tony and Cindy Guarnieri says:

    Reading this article about allowing the hunting and MURDERING of our beautiful Cougars is really disgusting, disgraceful, sickening and extremely disturbing. What kind of people would allow selfish trophy hunters to kill these magnificent animals??!! Our Cougars are already under-populated due to habitat loss and sickening acts of trapping. This is outrageous and us very infuriating. Humans always have to interfere with Mother Nature and throw off the BALANCE OF NATURE. The animals keep the balance in check themselves. Nature knows BEST. Our Cougars as well as ALL other species of wildlife benefits every other species of wildlife. It has been proven. ALL SPECIES OF ANIMALS MATTER. EVERY ANIMAL MATTERS. EVERY ANIMAL CONTRIBUTES TO THE WELL BEING OF OUR ECO-SYSTEM AND OUR ENVIRONMENTS. STOP THE INSANITY – IT IS MADDENING THAT THIS WOULD BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. THIS WOULD BE SO WRONG. OUR WILD ANIMALS WANT AND DESERVE TO LIVE TOO – JUST LIKE WE DO. THEY BELONG HERE WITH US, AND WE CAN ALL CO-EXIST HERE TOGETHER, AS IS MEANT TO BE

  33. Deborah Fairchild says:

    This is ridiculous! How can his be allowed.
    Could you post a petition to sign and share?

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