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Hunters push for mountain lion pursuit season in South Dakota

Patrick Weimer
Hounds ready for work

Hunters across the state are requesting a pursuit season for Mountain Lions.

This season would be in addition to normalMountain Lion harvest season but would end with shooting cameras rather than guns.

A pursuit season allows hound hunters to tree mountain lions but not kill them. It currently does not exist in South Dakota.

The season would allow houndsmen to run their dogs without adding to the Mountain Lion harvest limit. Houndsmen participating in a pursuit would need to purchase tags.

Patrick Weimer is the Vice President of South Dakota Houndsmen Association. He said a pursuit season would allow houndsmen in the state more opportunity to do what they enjoy.

“What a pursuit season essentially is, is what we like to call a 'tree and free.' We track the animal, we tree the animal, and we do what we enjoy. We take photos of the animal, we enjoy time with our family, our friends, our dogs, and we let the animal go,” said Weimer.

Treeing mountain lions is how South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks has been collecting DNA samples for years.

According to GF&P, treeing does not cause increased anxiety in the animal, and is the safest way to collect DNA samples and track the state’s mountain lion population.

Weimer said allowing for a pursuit season in South Dakota would help with uninvited mountain lion visits.

“This year, I have seen more cats in town than I ever have before. I live in Spearfish, South Dakota. We had a female raising two kittens that continuously kept coming into one of the trailer parks. Everyone kept asking, ‘hey where are my cats going?’ We know that that female was feeding her kittens those cats," said Weimer. "I think having lions being pursued by hounds themselves, it enforces that fear back into them that these are the place we don’t want to go. We stay away from homes, we stay away from human residence and they stay in the areas they are supposed to.”

The Game, Fish, and Parks commission agreed to include the idea of pursuit season in their discussion of increasing hound hunting limits in their October monthly meeting.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.