A bill that allows the use of dogs to hunt mountain lions outside of the Black Hills is one step closer to becoming law. Members of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee passed the measure with a vote of six to two.
House Bill 1068 allows mountain lion hunters to use dogs outside of the Black Hills Fire Protection District year round season. Representative Betty Olson is the prime sponsor of the bill. She says neighboring states already allow using hounds to hunt mountain lions. She says it’s a good idea for South Dakota as well.
“You will still have to buy the license, so Game and Fish won’t be out any of their revenue,” Olson says. “But it will allow a little more freedom, and I’m sure you’ve probably been getting some emails from some of the hound hunters that are all for this.”
Opponents, like Paul Lepisto with the Izaac Walton League of America, say the bill creates conflict between ranchers and hunters.
“The majority of ranchers in western South Dakota frankly don’t want dogs running all over their land,” Lepisto says. “They consider that a trespass. Dogs will chase cattle through fences, chase deer off their land, chase sheep, and anything else that moves or breathes. That’s one of the reasons the League is against that because of the conflict that would pose between people that would be doing this activity and landowners in areas of the state.”
Lepisto says members of the Izaac Walton League disagree with the measure because it takes away the Game Fish and Park’s authority to decide if dogs can be used. But proponents say using dogs for hunting mountain lions hasn’t caused problems in other states, and won’t be an issue here. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for further debate.