SPEARFISH, South Dakota — The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has rejected a proposal to allow nonresidents to join this season's Black Hills mountain lion hunt and lowered limits on the number of animals allowed to be killed.
The proposal was nixed at the commission's monthly meeting Friday after considerable discussion and review of more than 150 public comments, the Rapid City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1Pbt7e0 ).
The potential change was considered as an amendment to the 2015-16 plan, but the vast majority of those testifying on the matter at Thursday's public hearing opposed opening the hunt to nonresidents.
Commission Chairman John Cooper said he's not surprised that the discussion over changes to the mountain-lion hunt had become emotionally charged.
"If you talk to anybody in wildlife management in the western states, they will tell you that any large brown-eyed predator will create emotional controversy," he said. "That's just part of mountain lion management."
South Dakota has had a residents-only mountain lion season since 2005.
For the upcoming season, which starts Dec. 26 and runs through March 31, hunters can kill a total of 60 mountain lions or 40 females, whichever occurs first. The season closes immediately when either the total harvest limit or the female harvest limit is met.
The commission set last year's harvest limits at 75 animals or 50 females. The season ran its full length, with hunters killing 43 lions, 22 of which were female.
All harvested mountain lions must be presented to a Game, Fish and Parks representative for inspection within 24 hours of the kill.
Cooper said hunting fees fund extensive research into continued mountain lion management.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com