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

  • 1.7K

South Dakota has a notorious history of mismanaging its population and playing into the hands of trophy hunters. In past years, the Mount Rushmore state has repeatedly increased its 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 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

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 beendebunked by HSUS researchersand 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 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 to manage mountain lions.

Mountain lions are a beleaguered species, and the threats against them, including habitat loss, 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 leg hold 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.

This article was first published by A Humane World on 9 October 2019.

What you can do

Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.



Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.



Founder and Executive Editor

Share this post with your friends

  • 1.7K

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment

Just capture 10% or 30% and drop them off in the Florida Everglades.


Unnecessary killing, snaring, trapping and poisoning wildlife is barbaric. On the other hand, those that rely on humane killing, trapping and snaring for their nutritional sustenance, then that’s reasonably acceptable. But America and other countries love killing and thrive on the trophies. Money, in most cases, will trump most logic and most of the time leads to some form of corruption. South Dakota is a ‘deep red’ state and refuses to accept any liberal or moderately liberal thinking ~ whether it be logical or scientifically based on fact. South Dakota is hurting for its share of tourism dollars so they’re… Read more »

Kristine Donotbotherme

It was their world first.

Patricia Donnelly

All because some rancher wants the predators dead to stop them from taking his cattle.

Art Ryan

American Assassins

Cathy Knott

Solem de Guzman I agree. Let’s spend our money fighting Planned Parenthood,

Hunt for it.
Hunt for it.

Where are facts of mismanagement?? Why do you call it trophy hunting and not population control?? What are your credentials for saying any of this..oh is an add to raise money. Shame on your misrepresentations.
My checks not in the mail.

Steven Jeffries
Steven Jeffries

I don’t live in the Dakota’s, and as such, it is none of my business what another state does to manage it’s wildlife. Mind your own state’s problems and stay out of other folks business. Anything I read from HSUS is highly suspected to be very biased. Thank you.

Thomas P Martin
Thomas P Martin

Gee, Steven, wildlife in SD roam in national parks, state parks, national forests and in local communities. We all have a right to weigh in on wildlife management. Of course there are many out-of-state hunters and people who fish who come to SD and spend money and many tourists spend money to SEE wildlife.

Solem de Guzman

Hunters beware of KARMA! Why not spend your money on helping the poor instead of killing animals!

Debbir Lane

Stupid ..humans are the most evil on the planet

Maria Anna Mavromichalis

how about the other way around!!!!!!itthat would be better for the rest of the population!!!!!!

Shawn Spidahl Rice

Another year I will not visit South Dakota.

Lily Harper

Disgusting. Murderers. It should de illegal being besides IMMORAL!!!!

Wendy Bukovich Gilbert

May karma come to those who kill

Sara Leonard

30 percent of its trophy hunters? Oh, sorry, I was all excited there for a minute. Read the headline wrong.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

South dick- Kota shame on you


Once again, money takes precedent over the protection and nurturing of precious wildlife!