Lowest number of mountain lions killed in Black Hills in 10 years

Scientists tracking the mountain lions have found that roadways are largely trapping animals in the Santa Monica Mountains, which run along the Malibu coast and across the middle of Los Angeles to Griffith Park.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The mountain lion hunting season has ended in the Black Hills with the lowest number of animals taken in 10 years, according to South Dakota officials.

South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks said 21 mountain lions were killed this season, which started Dec. 26 and ended March 31. The agency had set the hunting limit at 60 males or 40 females.

The Rapid City Journal says this year’s harvest number follows back-to-back seasons where fewer than 35 lions were taken and continues a downward trend since the 2012-2013 season when 56 lions were killed.

The largest lion shot this season was a 5-year-old male weighing 161 pounds in Lawrence County. The smallest was a 9-month-old cat weighing 74 pounds. Eight females and 13 males made up this year’s harvest. Nine were killed in Custer County, eight in Lawrence County and four in Pennington County.

Game, Fish & Parks estimated the lion population in the Black Hills at 500 in January 2018, but officials said that may be a statistical anomaly and the actual population is closer to 300.

“We believe the lion population is very healthy and stable. As far as we can tell, the population is holding stable the last four or five years,” said state wildlife biologist Steve Griffin.

Mountain lion hunting seasons for the area outside the Black Hills remain open all year.

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