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South Dakota

South Dakota

In 1978, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks listed the mountain lion as a state threatened species.

In 2003 mountain lions were removed from the threatened list and classified as a big game animal with protection under a year-round closed season.

The first hunting season was established in 2005 as an “experimental season” and mountain lions have continued to be hunted as a big game species since, with the exception of 2008 when there was no mountain lion hunting season.

A total of 236 mountain lions were harvested from 2005 to 2012: 143 females and 93 males.

The 2012 Mountain Lion Hunting season (January 1 – March 31, 2012) had a quota of 70 total cougars or 50 females. The 2012 season closed in early March with a total of 73 cougars killed including 46 females and 27 males. Seven of the cougars killed were less than one year of age. The 2012 Mountain Lion Hunting Season Is Now Closed.

Current (2011) Big Game Regulations do not allow for the use of dogs for mountain lion hunting within the state. (See: Proposal for 2013 Mountain Lion Hunting Season below.)

Cougars killed by the department or private landowners, as well as road kill, incidental deaths by trapping or lions taken on Indian lands are NOT counted towards harvest objective quotas.

Proposed 2013 Mountain Lion Hunting Season to be set in October, 2012

The 2013 mountain lion hunting season and bag limits will be established at the Commission meeting in Deadwood October 4 – 5, 2012. (Public Hearing is scheduled for October 4th with finalization scheduled for the 5th.) The 2013 proposal would increase the harvest limit to 100, up from 70 in 2012, and increase the female quota from 50 to 70. The season is set to begin December 26, 2012 (five days earlier than the 2012 season) and close March 31, 2013 or when either of the quotas are reached. Mountain lion hunting will be allowed in Custer State Park during 8 intervals – 5 of which will be between 14 and 16 days in length and will NOT ALLOW THE USE OF HUNTING DOGS while three hunting intervals, each seven days in length WILL ALLOW THE USE OF DOGS. A total of 162 valid license holders will be randomly drawn for the Custer State Park hunts.

Please consider donating to the Cougar Fund by visiting our Donate page, or by shopping in our Store. Thank you.

South Dakota Mountain Lion Management Plan 2010 - 2015

South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks manages it mountain lion population based on its 5 – year Mountain Lion Management Plan 2010 – 2015. In the plan the state’s 2010 mountain lion population was estimated to be 223. The state is divided into two management regions, the Black Hills of west-central South Dakota bordering Wyoming and the remainder of the state referred to as the Prairie Region. The Black Hills Region contains the core of the mountain lion population and forms the basis for the state’s population estimates and quotas. As of 2010 there was no documentation of lions establishing home ranges within the prairie region although it is recognized as a movement corridor for dispersing mountain lions. As of 2009, landowners on their own land are allowed to harvest a lion year-round outside the Black Hills. Harvest does not count toward quota outside of the Black Hill management unit season dates.

View the plan at: