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If you have not submitted comments on the proposed mountain lion hunting season, please take a few minutes to do so in the next couple of days.  You are probably already aware that a high percentage of the occasional cougars documented in the Midwest originated in the Black Hills.  If the Black Hills population is decimated, the chances of natural recovery of cougars further east will be significantly reduced.

You have up to 5:00 pm Mountain Time (7:00 pm Eastern Time) on Wednesday to email your comments to wildinfo@state.sd.us

110 comments were submitted in July 2010 on the proposal to reduce the cougar population of the Black Hills.  Fifteen respondents approved of the plan, or more typically, suggested even more cougars should be killed or that they be treated as varmints, with no protection at all.  Most of these people appear to be deer and elk hunters.

The other 90 respondents, from all over the US, were opposed to the plan, citing flawed data analysis and their concern that the portion of the Black Hills in Wyoming is to be designated a cougar population sink, meaning that the number of cougars to be killed will exceed their ability to replace themselves.  Several knowledgeable people independently analyzed the Department of Game, Fish & Parks (DGFP’s) data analysis and found it flawed.  In response, the DGFP merely states that all these people are wrong.  Go here for an interesting read and ideas for your own comments -

http://gfp.sd.gov/wildlife/critters/mammals/docs/2010mtlion-managementplan-publicinput.pdf

Expressing their unhappiness with the proposed plan, some out-of-staters are saying they will no longer spend their tourist dollars in South Dakota if it is approved.

In the press release below, the DGFP does not state their intention to reduce the Black Hills cougar population, only to increase the number of cougar hunting licenses to be issued.  Could it be that they are embarassed by the outcry over their skewed data analysis and the fact that their plan lacks a peer review?  Maybe YOUR comment will affect their decision–just maybe.  At the very least, the public record will demonstrate that this isn’t simply a state issue, that DGFP is acting on flawed if not deliberately skewed data, and against the recommendations of both the cat experts who have commented and the Cougar Management Guidelines.

What we can do is remind them that the country will be watching–indeed, that we have anticipated and warned them of the havoc they are about to unleash, that they will have no one but themselves to blame for the orphaned kittens and subadults and the likely spike in cougar-related conflicts as a third of their adult cats are taken out and the population is radically destabilized.

http://www.kdlt.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5398&Itemid=57

KDLT.com – South Dakota

SD GF & P to Hold Public Hearing

by Associated Press
October 03, 2010

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission will hold a public hearing on this winter’s proposed
mountain lion hunting season when the panel holds its monthly meeting Thursday in the Black Hills.

The meeting will be held at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge, which is between Spearfish and Lead.  The proposed mountain lion season would run from Jan. 1 through March 31. Potential changes from the past season include increased numbers of licenses, a higher license fee and an additional hunting unit in Custer State Park.

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Here is the link to the proposed management plan for 2010-2015 – http://gfp.sd.gov/wildlife/docs/SDmountainLionmanageplan2010-2015.p

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A teacher’s letter to the Commissioners of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fisheries & Parks.

10-4-10

Dear GF&P Commissioners,

I urge you to consider carefully the proposed increase in numbers for the upcoming mountain lion season. I recently had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Laundre’s presentation about mt lions in the Black Hills. He put the so called numbers problem in prospective for me and that being there really isn’t a problem, unless we continue to create one. Killing more mountain lions seems to be only creating the possibility of orphaning more kittens and thus causing potential problems if the kittens do survive.  Young orphaned cats have not been taught how to hunt and thus do not know how to survive.  These orphans then are more likely to hunt unconventionally, come into towns, and hunt pets for example, posing more potential for human encounters.  In effect the more hunting causes more danger to humans rather than less as purported by your agency.

We all know that generalized hunting does not protect the public and the odds of attack are very small. Mountain lions really are neighbors we should be able to live with, seems education not eradication is what time and thought should be spent on.   I also request you consider the hunting proposal for Custer State Park. Is there no refuge for these animals that are doing the job of controlling other populations who need the control? The proposal is calling for “holistic management but I fail to see what in this plan is “holistic”.  For who or what, I have to wonder? If a season is to go into effect in Custer State Park and the quota there does not go towards the overall quota, again I have to wonder about the integrity of this proposed season.  I am a teacher who teaches a small unit on mountain lions to third graders.  Educating young people on the balance of nature and the relationship between prey/predator makes sense to these young learners, we all can be more educated about living with wildlife.

Mountain Lions help maintain a healthy deer population, because they screen out the sick and the weak.  Also, they protect creek areas from damage caused by deer to foliage and trees.  The foliage and trees then in turn provide shade for creek areas which in turn help fish populations to thrive.  It is all related, and it is good.  Predators are created for balance and a healthy environment.  Nature’s balance is intrinsically smarter and more beneficial than the whims of hunters.

I urge you to study the science and stave off the pressure from hunters, and their politics of fear.

Teah Homsey-Pray

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