Monday, June 11, 2007

Cougar supporters criticize increased limit for S.D. hunt

Jun 7 2007 5:21PM

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) A Custer veterinarian says a plan to let South Dakota hunters shoot more mountain lions this year could backfire and lead to more conflicts between lions and Black Hills residents.

Sharon Seneczko (Sin-EHZ-coh) says the killing of more female mountain lions will leave more cubs orphaned. She says orphaned cubs old enough to survive on their own will be more likely to get into trouble with humans because they will be young and inexperienced.

Seneczko testified today in Pierre at a hearing held by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission. The panel delayed a decision on the proposed lion hunting season until tomorrow.

All those who testified at today's public hearing opposed the plan to allow the shooting of more cougars. But Game, Fish and Parks Department staff say the proposal would not hurt the Black Hills mountain lion population.

Officials have recommended a season that would allow hunters to kill 35 mountain lions, but no more than 15 females could be shot.

That means the season would end when either 35 lions or 15 females are killed.

Last year's season ended when the eighth female was killed.

Wildlife officials estimate that the Black Hills is home to more than 200 mountain lions.

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