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A public meeting called by Wyoming State Senator Ogden Driskill (R- Hulett) this past February to discuss cougar numbers was attended by 115 people.  Of the 20 individuals who spoke at the meeting, all but one stated they felt there are too many mountain lions in the area.  Many of the verbal and written comments provided by meeting attendees suggested lions are negatively impacting big game herds, threatening livestock, and could present a public safety concern.” 

A crowd of hunters and ranchers showed up for the hearing because they’d been notified by private emails.  The one pro-cougar speaker, Nancy Hilding of the Prairie Hills Audubon Society, was booed and hissed when she spoke.  Public surveys show that most people favor the continued existence of cougars in the Black Hills.  Wyoming’s wildlife is not the sole property of ranchers and hunters!  See the article by Cougar Rewilding’s Vice President, John Laundre –http://www.mountainlion.org/featurearticleguestwhoownsthewildlife.asp

 

Press Release from Wyoming Game and Fish Department:

Game and Fish to Consider Changes to Mountain Lion Hunting Regulations.

Sundance – In response to concerns raised by landowners, sportsmen, and other citizens in northeast Wyoming, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing to change the State’s mountain lion hunting regulation for the 2012-2013 hunting season.  The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will consider changes to next fall’s lion hunting seasons during their July 9-11 meeting in Lander.

The WGFD will host a public meeting to present all proposed changes to next year’s mountain lion hunting seasons and accept written comments.  The meeting will be held in Sundance on Thursday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the basement of the Crook County Court House.

The mountain lion population in the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota has seen unprecedented growth and likely reached historically high numbers over the past decade, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Department Biologist, Dan Thompson, PhD.  Dr. Thompson, who completed his doctoral research on the Black Hill’s mountain lion population stated, “It is likely changes in habitat, species composition and prey abundance in the Black Hills, together with restricted killing of lions since 1974, allowed this population to increase substantially.
Dr. Thompson was also quick to point out that no estimate of the lion population is currently available for the Wyoming portion of the Black Hills, but noted the Department is working to change this.

“We are currently trying to assess the number of lions we have,” said Thompson.  “The Department began a project last December that will run for several years and uses DNA sampling of live and harvested lions to estimate the population.”

Thompson stated the project is tied to similar work being done in South Dakota, because mountain lions regularly cross the Stateline, and it is important to look at the entire Black Hills to better understand the cougars that live there.

Landowners and sportsmen in the Black Hills have no doubt lion numbers have increased well beyond those of the past.  A public meeting called by Wyoming State Senator Ogden Driskill (R- Hulett) this past February to discuss cougar numbers was attended by 115 people.  Of the 20 individuals who spoke at the meeting, all but one stated they felt there are too many mountain lions in the area.  Many of the verbal and written comments provided by meeting attendees suggested lions are negatively impacting big game herds, threatening livestock, and could present a public safety concern.

“I attended the meeting in Hulett, and whenever you have such a strong turnout at a public meeting with so many united in their desires, it is vital we consider ways we can reasonably alter management in an effort to address public concern,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Department Casper Region Wildlife Supervisor, Brian Olsen.

According to Wyoming’s statewide Mountain Lion Management Plan, the Department attempts to manage mountain lions to provide a sustained, statewide population and continued hunting opportunity.  This is accomplished through a system of management units, hunt areas, and mortality quotas that variously reduce, maintain, or increase mountain lion numbers at a local level.

“We actually manage various lion populations not towards exact numbers, but rather allow them to increase, decrease, or remain stable over a period of time – gauging trends by the age and sex of lions taken by hunters,” clarified Dr. Thompson.

Thompson added, “Harvest data from the Wyoming Black Hills suggests this population increased steadily over the past decade, and may have peaked.  Over the past several years, we have tried to reduce lion numbers in some portions of the Black Hills, while allowing their numbers to stay stable in others

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is now proposing hunting seasons that should cause mountain lion numbers to drop throughout Wyoming’s portion of the Black Hills.  “Based on the majority of comments we have received from the public and decreases in deer numbers, we feel it is prudent at this time to reduce mountain lion numbers,” said Olsen.

Consequently, the Department is proposing to split its two Black Hills mountain lion hunt areas (Areas 1 and 30) into three.  All three hunt areas would then be managed to reduce lion numbers over the next year.  Hunt Area 32 (Hulett) would have a season running from September 1 to March 31, with no mortality limit.  Hunt Area 1 (Sundance) would retain its current harvest quota of 24, but would be reduced in size by about a third.  Finally, under the Department’s proposal, Hunt Area 30 (Newcastle) would be reduced in size by about one-half and its harvest quota lowered to 12 lions.

Black Hills Wildlife Biologist, Joe Sandrini, reported, “The cougar hunting seasons proposed next year for the Black Hills are aimed at balancing the desires of local landowners and sportsmen with management of other species. Deer numbers in the Black Hills are about as low as I have seen them in nearly 20 years, and I think it is a good time to reduce predation pressure on them.”

 

In summarizing planned changes to lion hunting in the Black Hills, Dr. Thompson observed, “Managing large carnivores like mountain lions is biologically and socially complex.  We have to consider the cause and effect of many factors, but the good news is that lion populations like those in the Black Hills can easily recover from transient declines – it is the human dimension and perceptions surrounding their management that can be tougher to handle over the long-term.”

 

Draft regulations are available, and comments can be submitted at the WGFD website http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/HUNTING-1000179.aspx and from the Department’s Casper Regional Office (307) 473-3400.  Draft regulations can be obtained from the address listed below in accordance with Wyoming Game and Fish Commission Regulation Chapter 1, Regulation Governing Access to Records.  All comments must be received by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Methods for submitting public comment – Deadline is June 12, 2012

  1. Online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/HUNTING-1000179.aspx
  2. Written comments shall be accepted on regulations at public information gathering meetings.
  3. Written comments shall be mailed to:

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Casper Regional Office

ATTN: Wildlife Division, Regulations

3030 Energy Lane

Casper, WY  82604

 

 


Map of proposed mountain lion hunt areas in the Black Hills of Wyoming.


Game and Fish to Consider Changes to Mountain Lion Hunting Regulations.

Sundance – In response to concerns raised by landowners, sportsmen, and other citizens in northeast Wyoming, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing to change the State’s mountain lion hunting regulation for the 2012-2013 hunting season.  The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will consider changes to next fall’s lion hunting seasons during their July 9-11 meeting in Lander.

The WGFD will host a public meeting to present all proposed changes to next year’s mountain lion hunting seasons and accept written comments.  The meeting will be held in Sundance on Thursday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the basement of the Crook County Court House.

The mountain lion population in the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota has seen unprecedented growth and likely reached historically high numbers over the past decade, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Department Biologist, Dan Thompson, PhD.  Dr. Thompson, who completed his doctoral research on the Black Hill’s mountain lion population stated, “It is likely changes in habitat, species composition and prey abundance in the Black Hills, together with restricted killing of lions since 1974, allowed this population to increase substantially.”
Dr. Thompson was also quick to point out that no estimate of the lion population is currently available for the Wyoming portion of the Black Hills, but noted the Department is working to change this.

“We are currently trying to assess the number of lions we have,” said Thompson.  “The Department began a project last December that will run for several years and uses DNA sampling of live and harvested lions to estimate the population.”

Thompson stated the project is tied to similar work being done in South Dakota, because mountain lions regularly cross the Stateline, and it is important to look at the entire Black Hills to better understand the cougars that live there.

Landowners and sportsmen in the Black Hills have no doubt lion numbers have increased well beyond those of the past.  A public meeting called by Wyoming State Senator Ogden Driskill (R- Hulett) this past February to discuss cougar numbers was attended by 115 people.  Of the 20 individuals who spoke at the meeting, all but one stated they felt there are too many mountain lions in the area.  Many of the verbal and written comments provided by meeting attendees suggested lions are negatively impacting big game herds, threatening livestock, and could present a public safety concern.

“I attended the meeting in Hulett, and whenever you have such a strong turnout at a public meeting with so many united in their desires, it is vital we consider ways we can reasonably alter management in an effort to address public concern,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Department Casper Region Wildlife Supervisor, Brian Olsen.

According to Wyoming’s statewide Mountain Lion Management Plan, the Department attempts to manage mountain lions to provide a sustained, statewide population and continued hunting opportunity.  This is accomplished through a system of management units, hunt areas, and mortality quotas that variously reduce, maintain, or increase mountain lion numbers at a local level.

“We actually manage various lion populations not towards exact numbers, but rather allow them to increase, decrease, or remain stable over a period of time – gauging trends by the age and sex of lions taken by hunters,” clarified Dr. Thompson.

Thompson added, “Harvest data from the Wyoming Black Hills suggests this population increased steadily over the past decade, and may have peaked.  Over the past several years, we have tried to reduce lion numbers in some portions of the Black Hills, while allowing their numbers to stay stable in others.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is now proposing hunting seasons that should cause mountain lion numbers to drop throughout Wyoming’s portion of the Black Hills.  “Based on the majority of comments we have received from the public and decreases in deer numbers, we feel it is prudent at this time to reduce mountain lion numbers,” said Olsen.

Consequently, the Department is proposing to split its two Black Hills mountain lion hunt areas (Areas 1 and 30) into three.  All three hunt areas would then be managed to reduce lion numbers over the next year.  Hunt Area 32 (Hulett) would have a season running from September 1 to March 31, with no mortality limit.  Hunt Area 1 (Sundance) would retain its current harvest quota of 24, but would be reduced in size by about a third.  Finally, under the Department’s proposal, Hunt Area 30 (Newcastle) would be reduced in size by about one-half and its harvest quota lowered to 12 lions.

Black Hills Wildlife Biologist, Joe Sandrini, reported, “The cougar hunting seasons proposed next year for the Black Hills are aimed at balancing the desires of local landowners and sportsmen with management of other species. Deer numbers in the Black Hills are about as low as I have seen them in nearly 20 years, and I think it is a good time to reduce predation pressure on them.”

In summarizing planned changes to lion hunting in the Black Hills, Dr. Thompson observed, “Managing large carnivores like mountain lions is biologically and socially complex.  We have to consider the cause and effect of many factors, but the good news is that lion populations like those in the Black Hills can easily recover from transient declines – it is the human dimension and perceptions surrounding their management that can be tougher to handle over the long-term.”

Draft regulations are available, and comments can be submitted at the WGFD website http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/HUNTING-1000179.aspx and from the Department’s Casper Regional Office (307) 473-3400.  Draft regulations can be obtained from the address listed below in accordance with Wyoming Game and Fish Commission Regulation Chapter 1, Regulation Governing Access to Records.  All comments must be received by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.

Methods for submitting public comment – Deadline is June 12, 2012
Online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/HUNTING-1000179.aspx
Written comments shall be accepted on regulations at public information gathering meetings.
Written comments shall be mailed to:

Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Casper Regional Office
ATTN: Wildlife Division, Regulations
3030 Energy Lane
Casper, WY  82604

Map of proposed mountain lion hunt areas in the Black Hills of Wyoming.

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