The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission approved a hunting season that will let hunters shoot more mountain lions this year.
Commission members voted unanimously to approve the new limits after wildlife officials said the change aimed to maintain healthy mountain lion populations in the Black Hills.
The new limits will let hunters kill up to 35 cougars, but no more than 15 females can 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. A total of 16 mountain lions were taken. Only 13 were shot in 2005, when South Dakota revived a mountain lion season.
Wildlife officials say this year’s season sets a responsible limit to manage the Black Hills cougar population.
In public testimony Thursday, some people argued the increased limits could harm the mountain lion population.
They say shooting more females could orphan more cubs and cause those inexperienced young lions to get into trouble with Black Hills residents.
Wildlife officials estimate the Black Hills is home to more than 200 mountain lions.