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GF&P proposes higher lion limit

Jason Ferguson
Published: Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The quota of mountain lions killed during the next lion hunting season would rise to 100—30 more than last year—under a proposal by the state Game, Fish & Parks (GF&P) Department wildlife staff.
The wildlife staff now estimates there are 300 lions in the Hills, about 100 more than it estimated before the 2012 lion season that began in January. Seventy three lions were killed last year, and the number of lions killed has continued to rise since the season began in 2005.
GF&P staff has also recommended the season begin Dec. 26 and run through March. The subquota for female lions would rise from 50 to 70 under the proposal. The season closes if either quota is reached before the closing date.
The GF&P staff also recommends that the commission allow some hunters to hunt with dogs in Custer State Park. It would be the first such use of dogs for lion hunting. It is hoped allowing the use of dogs would help lower the number of cats in the park. Park officials believe the lions are hurting elk herd growth by feeding on elk calves.
Mike Kintigh, GF&P regional supervisor, said the estimate of 300 lions is based on three different methodologies, including modeling techniques and the number of collared lions taken a year ago during the hunting season.  All of the methodologies pointed to a population around 300 lions in the Hills. Kintigh said GF&P has been criticized because its population estimate continues to rise, but said the reason the estimate continues to rise is because more and better information is gathered.
“We are able to better say what we have for a population,” he said. “It’s changed over the years, but I have confidence in our accuracy based on the information we have.”

The quota of mountain lions killed during the next lion hunting season would rise to 100—30 more than last year—under a proposal by the state Game, Fish & Parks (GF&P) Department wildlife staff.

The wildlife staff now estimates there are 300 lions in the Hills, about 100 more than it estimated before the 2012 lion season that began in January. Seventy three lions were killed last year, and the number of lions killed has continued to rise since the season began in 2005.

GF&P staff has also recommended the season begin Dec. 26 and run through March. The subquota for female lions would rise from 50 to 70 under the proposal. The season closes if either quota is reached before the closing date.

The GF&P staff also recommends that the commission allow some hunters to hunt with dogs in Custer State Park. It would be the first such use of dogs for lion hunting. It is hoped allowing the use of dogs would help lower the number of cats in the park. Park officials believe the lions are hurting elk herd growth by feeding on elk calves.

Mike Kintigh, GF&P regional supervisor, said the estimate of 300 lions is based on three different methodologies, including modeling techniques and the number of collared lions taken a year ago during the hunting season.  All of the methodologies pointed to a population around 300 lions in the Hills. Kintigh said GF&P has been criticized because its population estimate continues to rise, but said the reason the estimate continues to rise is because more and better information is gathered.

“We are able to better say what we have for a population,” he said. “It’s changed over the years, but I have confidence in our accuracy based on the information we have.”

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