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

By on October 9, 2019 with 29 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.

  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.

  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.

  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. Thomas Houghtaling says:

    Sickening and Disgusting! Stop this bullshit!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!!!!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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…..

  19. Steve H says:

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

  20. Sherri Anne Kamaka says:


  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. T Comrie says:

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

  24. Ellie Forrest says:

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. Carolyn Denton says:

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

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