Target: South Dakota’s Game, Fish & Parks Commission
Goal: Stop using questionable techniques to estimate the mountain lion population and establish hunting limits in South Dakota’s Black Hills
Mountain lions, sometimes also referred to as pumas, mountain cats, panthers, or cougars, are big cats that are native throughout the Americas. Due in part to their wide range, the species is not currently listed as threatened or endangered. However, the growing human population and excessive hunting have eliminated this beautiful cat from many parts of its historical range. The mountain lion population in South Dakota’s Black Hills has been estimated by wildlife officials to be around 300 individual cats. However, animal activists are questioning the techniques used to calculate that number, stating that the real population, due to past hunting seasons, is probably much lower. A low population, coupled with high 2012-2013 winter hunting limits, put the Black Hills mountain lion population at serious risk.
In South Dakota, around 40 mountain lions per year are killed by ranchers for public safety reasons, and by traffic. South Dakota’s Game, Fish & Parks Commission is proposing to allow another 70 to 100 Black Hills lions be killed by hunters during the 2012-2013 winter hunting season. Lion hunting is unlimited throughout the rest of South Dakota. The number of lions hunters are allowed to kill in the Black Hills each year is based on the area’s estimated lion population. Although the Game, Fish & Parks staff have estimated around 300 lions living throughout the Black Hills, activists are concerned that this number may have been purposely set high in order to appease hunters. Groups such as The Mountain Lion Foundation are questioning South Dakota’s lion population estimate techniques.
The Game, Fish & Parks Commission reportedly estimates the current mountain lion population based on how many lions were killed the year before. This means that although hunting is inevitably lowering the lion population, the more lions that are killed, the higher the population is estimated to be. Furthermore, the data that the commission uses to estimate the current lion population as well as yearly hunting limits has never been made available to the public. Activists are concerned that the techniques currently used by the commission to estimate wildlife populations are not scientifically recognized. Flawed, inflated population estimates and high hunting limits could eventually lead to the Black Hills mountain lion population being brought down to such low numbers that there will be no chance of natural recovery.
By signing this petition, you are asking South Dakota’s Game, Fish & Parks Commission to revise its population estimation techniques. Methods used for population estimates should be scientifically proven and should focus on the survival of natural species, not on the wishes of hunters. Demand that the 2012-2013 winter mountain lion hunting season be suspended until a more accurate estimate of the current population size can be determined.
Dear South Dakota’s Game, Fish & Parks Commission,
Please suspend the 2012-2013 mountain lion hunting season until scientifically proven techniques are utilized to more accurately estimate the current population of lions residing in the Black Hills.
Your commission’s method of estimating the population based off of the number of lions killed each year is inaccurate. Common sense should tell you that the more animals that are killed each year, the lower the population becomes. It’s important to correct your mistake now, before the Black Hills mountain lion population becomes so low that there will be no chance of a natural recovery. Methods used for population estimates should be scientifically proven and should focus on the survival of natural species, not on the wishes of hunters. By catering to the wishes of local trophy hunters, you are putting the entire Black Hills mountain lion population at risk.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: fpat viz Flickr