The panel on Thursday chose instead to have the state Wildlife Division take a new look at population objectives for mountain lions as well as elk and deer in the Black Hills.
…The South Dakota Houndsmen Association wanted the commission to allow dogs to be used in the Black Hills Fire Protection District to take up to 12 lions, with sub-limits of six females and six males.
Wildlife program administrator Andrew Norton presented projections that indicated letting hound-using hunters take a dozen lions would lead to fewer lions in the Black Hills or come at the expense of dog-less “boot” hunters, whose success rate is much lower.
The 2023 season for the Black Hills that opened December 26, 2022, and closed April 30, 2023, saw hunters report 44 lions harvested, including 28 females and 16 males. The average number of female lions taken from the Black Hills during the past four seasons was 26, according to Norton, who said that continuing at the 26 pace would eventually cause the Black Hills lion population to decline [Bob Mercer, “Houndsmen Denied Wider Use of Dogs on Lion Hunts,” KELO-TV, 2023.09.07].
Risking my dog, or a bunch of dogs, just to get an easier shot at a mountain lion doesn’t sound like my idea of a pleasant walk in the woods. But the GF&P Commission didn’t completely shut the door on the South Dakota Houndsmen‘s pursuits; GF&P will continue to study population trends among the mountain lions and see if there may be more room for hunting with dog packs in future hunting seasons.