South Dakota hound hunters seek more Mountain Lion opportunities
The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department is considering changing rules for using hounds to hunt mountain lions.
Game, Fish, and Parks commissioners heard two petitions from residents desiring an expanded use for hound hunting during Mountain Lion season in their latest meeting Thursday.
The use of hounds during a Mountain Lion hunt is legal but currently limited to Custer State Park. Hound hunters said even with these permissions, the ability to draw a tag is extremely limited.
Patrick Weimer is the Vice President of South Dakota Houndsmen Association and a petitioner. He said current law prevents many people interested in hound hunting from drawing a tag.
“I hear from people, and it is always older gentleman. And it's, 'I don’t want to die before I draw this tag.' And that’s what its turning into," Weimer said. "I don’t know if any of you guys have put in for Custer State Park. You probably started early on in the season when we first started it and you got 8, 9, 10 preference points. You’re getting to the age that the possibility of doing that might not happen."
Houndsmen said most of the time, the available tags are pulled by hunters who do not own hounds. The hunters who draw these tags end up hiring the Houndsmen to run their dogs and tree a Mountain Lion for them.
Julie Bartling is a Game, Fish, and Parks commissioner. She said it is time for the commission to consider expanding hound hunting opportunities.
“It’s worthy to talk about, as commissioner Bies has said, we’ve had conversations in the past. Both pro and con on the use of hounds and whatnot, and I think that this does deserve a thorough look through. And what we do from here is of course up to us, and I think public comment will be well worth it,” said Bartling.
The commission adopted the first Mountain Lion season petition and denied the second. Thepetitionswere similar in language and the commission chose to adopt one, giving GFP staff time to review and make changes.
Commissioners will hear GFP staff’s revisions and suggestions and take final action on the petition in October .