brown animals during daytime Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion Alert

2023 Cougar Management alerts:

==========   2023 STATE Alerts  ====================

Mountain lions have no idea where state or tribal/non-tribal boundaries are.  Their populations are self regulated, as the older lions will chase away young lions if the territory is at capacity. Lions can disperse long distances in search of vacant territory and mates.  We therefore follow mountain lion policies in nearby states. When nearby states such as Wyoming, have over-aggressive harvest limits, than Wyoming will be a sink for SD lions – SD lions will migrate to Wyoming Black Hills and perhaps be killed, thus this will be a drain on the growth or stability of the SD population, that is also hunted.
Our states of SD, NE & ND are on the eastern edge of breeding populations that can supply lions to recolonize eastern USA.  A male lion from the Black Hills was killed by a car on the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut.
,SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LIONS 2023 – In fall of 2023 SDGFP did not revise (change) it’s mountain lion season rules  for the next  year (winter 2023-2024) The Department’s proposal  for cougar hunting for 2024-25 was presented in July and had no changes to the season proposed.  A petitioner presented a proposal to allow hound hunting of 12 lions (6 males/6 females) in the Black Hills Fire Protection District, outside of Custer State Park.  The Commission moved that petition forward to rule making in July, but then aborted (killed)  the rule making process in September. In a September discussion between staff, Commission and petitioner, it sounded like the vocal members of the Commission wanted to expand hound hunting to the Black Hills Fire Protection District, outside of Custer State Park.  However staff explained that to do that, they needed to first amend the Mountain Lion Management Plan to lower the population objectives (300-200 lions), as staff believed that allowing killing of 6 female lions by hound hunters would drop the population below the population objectives. It sounded like the Department would work to amend the Plan to reduce populations objectives, so it can create a hound hunting season for the entire Black Hills that would then be consistent with the new, amended Mountain Lion Plan.  So we will perhaps see unfortunate proposals to amend the Plan and new rule change proposals for hound hunting, to perhaps be presented by staff, no later than July of 2024 and perhaps some  stakeholder meetings and opportunity for public comment on Plan amendment, before that.  We provide alerts on Commission meetings in advance and then post a review after the meeting. We suggest folks who support lions show up and testify remotely in their favor, by Zoom, at Commission meetings.  We provide alerts on all SDGFP Commission meetings in advance on our web site calendar.  We periodically have networking Zoom meetings on issues associated with predators in the northern plains and may have one in October November 2023.

July 2023 Commission meeting alert and review:

 (change) and may,

September 2023Commission meeting alert and review:

October 2023  Commission meeting alert and review:

June 2023 Commission meeting alert and review:

WYOMING GAME & FISH – WGFC Plans to make some changes to cougar hunting rules in the September with proposal offered for public

 comment in July 2023.  

Wyoming Game & Fish Commission   2023- is reviewing a proposed increase by 50% of  lion hunting limits in 4 of its units on its’ western  edge  (not  in the Black Hills) . There were public meetings happening in towns in July. Deadline for written comments is received at 5 pm MT on Friday August 4th. Commission hearing is in Gillette on September 12-13th. Other public meetings were in June & July, in various towns in Wyoming, by Department on rule changes proposed by WG&F Depart. You can submit short comments online (8,000 word limit), but for a long formal letter , you must mail by post.  Wyoming Commission approved the proposed changes at their Sept 13th meeting… .Link for details:– 

  NORTH  DAKOTA GAME & FISH- ND will be revising its season this year. You may send comments to Stephanie Tucker (staff) by early or mid July when she submits a plan to the Governor for his approval.  Her e-mail:, phone: (701) 220-1871‬‬‬ 

NEBRASKA GAME AND PARKS COMMISSION – NGPC  revisited its’ season this year (June) and decided to add hunting in the Niobrara Unit, to the already hunted Pine Ridge Unit.   

Deadline for Nebraska GP Commission  2023 written comments on lion & otters was midday CT June 7th, 2023 – The hearing was June 9th, The Commission approved the mountain lion season  proposals.  View alert at this link: Link for details: 

MONTANA FISH WILDLIFE AND PARKS – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks decided to increase hunting by 40%:  

Montana FW&P May 11th- (PAST)  & June 8th, 2023. View alerts at these links. The Commission approved a high increase in the harvest limit:

Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) has a hunting season of 20 lions of either sex and 10 female harvest limit.  In May, 2023 9 had been killed – We are not yet sure if that was in 2022 or 2023 thus far.  They allow tribal and non-tribal hunting and hunting with hounds as long as the guide is a tribal member. 
 Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST) likely has had a least one breeding lion in the past (photo of kitten shown to tribal staff) and may have 2 areas that support resident lions. Tribal members can hunt lions under a furbearer license or mountain lion hunting license. 
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) may have had resident lions along the rivers, but no conclusive proof of breeding, unless it is recently changed. They did not used to have a hunting season, we have not checked in 2023 yet. 
Yankton Sioux Tribe (YST) may have had a few  breeding lions in the past, but that was not conclusively proven. They do not  have a hunting season as of May 2023.
Three Affiliated Tribes in ND have breeding lions and a 5 lion harvest limit.

We need to contact other tribes in ND,  Montana and Wyoming and Canada.


2022 Cougar Management alerts:


Wyoming July 2022 Alert

Nebraska lion Alert June 2022

ND Mt Lion Alert 2022


2021 Cougar Management alerts



PHAS has been following cougar issue in SD since 2005. 
Here is a video of 2021 PHAS meeting on this topic:
An old 2021 alert on this topic will soon be uploaded so you can read it.
In Sept 2021, the  SDGFP Commission passed both proposed rules on mountain lions with no changes from proposals. 
 Future action to protect mountain lions in SD will be to contact federal and state land management agencies and ask them to prohibit hound hunting of mountain lions  on their properties. Also to contact tribes 



Update, in Sept 2021, the  SDGFP Commission passed both proposed rules on mountain lions with no changes from proposals. The Commission passed the rule on spring turkey with no changes from proposal. The only rule to which there was a change, was on blow guns used for fishing; they decided not to allow blow guns for fishing. (There is another petition for rule making on blow guns for consideration 5/4/23)Future action to protect mountain lions will be to contact federal and state land management agencies and ask them to prohibit hound hunting of mountain lions on their properties. Please watch for updates on that future campaign


 SD MOUNTAIN LION ALERT SD Fall 2021 –  OLD  (you can see our objections to 2021 season)

Wednesday September 1st (afternoon) 2021 – Thursday September 2nd  (morning) was a past SD Game, Fish & Parks Commission Meeting in Rapid City at Outdoor Campus West with virtual & teleconference options

As the proposed rule was adopted,  you need to go to SD Administrative Rules list for mountain lions to see the rule as amended in 2021:

2021 Alert On Mountain Lion Seasons Rule Changes (these rules were adopted)

Here is a link to the letter that Prairie Hills Audubon Society submitted to SD GFP:

If you go to these two links you can see what other individuals and NGOs – such as HSUS, MLF, Cougar Fund, SD-FACT wrote. The long formal letters are at the end of the PDF files, the shorter letters at the beginning. :

In 2021, we suggested folks oppose both proposed rules changes for mountain lion hunting.  But they passed.

  SD Mt. lion hunting is divided into the Black Hills Fire Protection District and every where else (Prairie unit). In the Prairie Unit there is 365 day hunting with no harvest limit and hound hunting was allowed on private land (with land owner/lessor permission) and moving from private land to BLM and State School Lands. Hound hunting was allowed in Custer State Park in two week time segments alternating with two weeks of “boot hunting” (boot = no hounds used). The first two week session was given to hound hunting and thus for many years the boot hunters are out-competed and have not gotten any lions.The hunting season on the Black Hills Unit is too aggressive and will result in decreasing populations, perhaps dropping below the population below the population goals that SDGFP wants. We suggest  at least lowering the female lion harvest limit in the Black Hills unit.

 We suggested people object to hound hunting of lions, which occurs on Custer State Park (a sub-set of Black Hills unit) and in the Prairie unit. You could have objected due to 1. animal cruelty to both  dogs and lions, 2. not fair chase, 3. provides huge advantage of success for hound hunters vs boot hunters  4. creates trespass risk, 5. disturbs non-target wildlife, livestock and other human users.  However they made a specific change to increase hound increasing the area of public land in the Prairie Unit where hound hunters can travel from private land to hunt on public land, to  include all of public lands unless public land manager specifically objects. Previously public land hound hunting in the Prairie unit was limited to expanding onto BLM and State School lands. . You could have objected specifically to that proposed increase in hound hunting area on the Prairie Unit.

We suggested allowing the boot hunters the first two week session in Custer State Park, for sake of boot hunters, lions & dogs.

Written comments (2021) were to be submitted at or at

The rule change to allow hound hunting on the prairie unit on public land unless the land management agency specifically objects passed the Commission. We thus need to contact public land managers and ask them to object to hound hunting of lions on their property.

UPDATE ON LIONS – This bill was killed in committee (dead).  2022 SD Legislature had HB 1296 – would have treated cougars  (which by statute are a big game species in SD ) as if they were a “predator/varmint” in the prairie unit and allow hunting without a license 365 days of a year.  This would have taken away from the GFP Commission the option to reduce the days in the hunting season for the prairie. Cougar advocates wanting  to reduce prairie unit hunting from year round would have to go lobby the legislature. Folks would not pay the license fee, which is $28 dollars . 




You can testify orally at the Commission meetings, during the hearing or open forum. Meetings are hybrid, thus remote testifying allowed. 

‪Written comments to the SDGFP Commission can be submitted at To be included in the public record of a specific commission meeting, comments must include your complete name and city of residence and meet the submission deadline of seventy-two hours before that specific  meeting (not including the day of the meeting). Deadline for Thursday meetings is Sunday night before midnight, at CT or MT depending on time zone of the upcoming meeting. Late comments go into the public record of the next meeting.  Unless you want to send directly to each Commissioner  – ‬you can contact them 365 days of the year. We provide their e-mails in our specific alerts on the PHAS calendar. Find their phone and addresses at: