February 1, 2023

More Mountain Lions in South Dakota Than Before

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Results are coming in from studies conducted since 2003 on mountain lions. These results indicate that there are far more lions than officials had estimated, perhaps as many as 210. Previous estimates had the population at around 145.

The reason for the change comes from results of a study involving the tracking of the animals with radio collars. Estimates on mountain lion population is not unlike other animals. If officials can determine the range, factor in birth and death rates, they can come up with a figure.

Wildlife officials have captured and attached radio collars to as many as 50 cats and since 2003 have been tracking them. They have determined that the lions do not need nor are they using as much space to live in as first thought. Male cougar’s ranges are estimated to be nearly 1/3 of original estimates and the females use 40% less. Officials say that as the population increases, the animals don’t need to travel as far to meet their needs.

April 6 and 7, 2006, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission will meet and decide whether to have a mountain lion hunt this season as part of their efforts to control the population growth. Number estimates show that this is probably a necessity. On May 4 and 5, the commission will make a final determination and if they recommend a hunt, proceedure calls for a period of public comment.

Tom Remington