Photo of Ranchland bordering Devil's Tower in the Black Hills of Wyoming.  Text:  Dollars for Ranchers, Death for Lions, Another Black Hills Tragedy.  Wyoming wants to kill cougars to enrich a chosen few.  Your voice is required.


WGFD raises quotas and carves out new hunt area 32 for cougars so ranchers can make money from hunts on their private lands.


Although they dropped the term "unlimited," the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) has drastically increased quotas and finalized plans that will effectively eradicate lions in their portion of the Black Hills to enrich a few greedy ranchers.

Photo of hunter with gun looking out over Wyoming landscape.
Within the two already over-harvested hunting zones (HA 1 and HA 30), combined with the newly created Hunt Area 32, WGFD has authorized the death of approximately half the lions in the region so that local ranchers can carry on lucrative mountain lion hunts long after the Black Hills lion harvest quota has been reached on public lands.

The new mortality quota for the region — 61 lions — represents over a 50 percent increase in the already excessive quota, and could raise the mortality to 49 percent of the lion population.

A 1991 study by Dr. Frederick Lindzey (long before he became a Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioner) demonstrated that even mortality levels as low as 27 percent were unrecoverable by local lion populations if that level of mortality persisted year after year as they have in this case.

The Black Hills may only support a couple hundred mountain lions, but dispersing animals from this island-like patch of mountain lion habitat are America's best hope for seeing the species reestablish populations throughout the Midwest and eastern states. See MLF's feature article Eastward Ho for more information about this slow migration. Map of Wyoming side of the Black Hills showing 67 lions have been killed in just 4 hunt zones.

Unfortunately, both Wyoming and South Dakota have stated that they want to suppress the Black Hills lion population. For the current trophy season, both states increased their quotas by fifty percent and created special "unlimited zones" that allow for an unrestricted number of lions to be killed.

As of just the 9th of January, 2013, Wyoming ranchers and trophy hunters have already maxed out some of the hunting zones and have killed a whopping 67 lions in their portion of the Black Hills.

When the commission adopted the season plan in the fall of 2012, WGFD's large carnivore biologist Dan Thompson possibly summed up the Commission's decision best when he said that he didn't "know if a quota of 25 [lions in the newly created Hunt Area #32] will last the season or fill before March 31, but it will cut the population." The quota was reached by the second of January.

In addition to the 67 lions killed in the hunt, the department has recorded 4 more lions killed by humans in the area comprising the crucial 4 hunt areas, for a total of 71.

Artificially shrinking a mountain lion population has been shown to decrease the overall age of the population and increase conflicts with people and domestic animals.

Please help protect people, pets, livestock and lions by joining the Mountain Lion Foundation today. With your help, MLF will travel to the Black Hills this year and fight to stop the lion hunt, permanently.

Become a member.

Click here to read MLF Director Tim Dunbar's blog about this issue.


Even though the entire Black Hills only covers a small area of land approximately 5,000 square miles in size, it has been apparent for some time now that the region's lion population is a primary source for the recolonization of the species throughout the entire Midwest. Unfortunately, actions currently underway by the governing state game agencies (Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska) have reduced this natural process to a mere trickle of individual animals. Wyoming's proposed changes for the 2012 lion hunting season now threatens even those few.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) is pursuing plans that will effectively eradicate lions in their portion of the Black Hills to enrich a few greedy ranchers. These plans will carve out a major portion of two already over-harvested hunting zones to create a special, no-limit Hunt Area (# 32) so that local ranchers can carry on lucrative mountain lion hunts long after the region's lion harvest quota has been reached on public lands.

Photo of Wyoming map showing new hunt area 32 in northeast corner.

WGFD attempts to avoid public scrutiny of their wildlife program by refusing to publicly estimate how many mountain lions live in the state. Instead they base their claim of a healthy, expanding lion population, and the need for an ever-increasing harvest quota on the opinions of a few individuals. The identities and credentials of these people are not revealed. In decision-making as controversial and polarized as mountain lion protection, it would be easy for any extreme to find a few individuals to support any particular point of view. To now accede to the demands of a small, special interest group without scientifically demonstrating that the proposed action will not harm the region's lion population is the height of folly and mismanagement.

All Wyoming citizens who believe that their state's lion population is being exploited and threatened with extirpation can voice their opinion by attending one of the scheduled public hearings on this issue, and sending in written comments to the regulators via their formal process.

Review the Proposed Regulations

The draft proposed regulations are available for review on the WGFD website. Printed copies of the draft reregulation (Chapter 42) are also available (according to WGFD) at the following address:

Wyoming Game and Fish Department
3030 Energy Lane
Casper, WY 82604

Send in your Written Comments

Comments written and mailed by Wyoming residents can really make a difference. Written comments on the proposals will also be accepted through 5 p.m. June 12, 2012. If you reside or own property in Wyoming, please write your comments and mail them via postal mail to:

Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Comments on Regulations CHAPTER 42, Mtn. Lion Seasons
3030 Energy Lane
Casper, WY 82604

Please also send a copy of your comments to the Mountain Lion Foundation.

Mountain Lion Foundation P.O. Box 1896 Sacramento, CA 95812

All comments, whether mailed, emailed, or collected via survey, must be received by the Department by 5 p.m. June 12, 2012.

Take Action by Attending a Public Meeting

Equally important is attending one of the public meetings held specifically to hear public comments on these proposals. Please try to attend.

The public meetings will take place at:

  • May 14 - 6 p.m. Cody Bighorn Federal Bank
  • May 14 - 7 p.m. Laramie Game and Fish Office
  • May 14 - 6 p.m. Pinedale Game and Fish Office
  • May 15 - 6 p.m. Dubois Headwaters Arts & Conference Center
  • May 15 - 7 p.m. Green River Game and Fish Office
  • May 15 - 5 p.m. Sheridan Game and Fish Office
  • May 23 - 7 p.m. Casper Game and Fish Office
  • May 24 - 7 p.m. Sundance Crook County Courthouse (open house)
  • June 4 - 7 p.m. Jackson Game and Fish Office

Take WGFD Online Web Survey

If Wyoming residents are unable to attend a meeting or send a personal letter, comments may be also provided online through the department's web survey. You will be required to sign in one time and the system will cycle through all 5 draft regulations sequentially for you to enter your comments. If you do not have comments on a particular draft, you will have the option to choose "No Opinion" and move onto the next draft. The Mountain Lion Regulations are part of Chapter 42, the fourth of the five survey drafts.

Photo of hunter holding large lion carcass.

Attend the July 9, Meeting in Lander

All comments will be presented to the Game and Fish Commission prior to their July 9-11 meeting in Lander.

Tell Your Friends.

Even if you live outside Wyoming, you can make a difference. America's lions belong to the wild, and to us all. Please tell your friends — and ask them to tell their friends — to notify freinds and family in Wyoming, tell them about our website and how they can help through email, Facebook and Twitter. The hashtag is #DeathForDollars

LIKE this page, or send the link to a friend:

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About the Mountain Lion Foundation.

The Mountain Lion Foundation, founded in 1986, is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habitat. The mountain lion is also known as cougar, puma, panther, and catamount.

We believe that mountain lions are in peril. Our nation is on the verge of destroying this apex species upon which whole ecosystems depend. Hunting mountain lions is morally unjustified, and killing lions to prevent conflicts is ineffective and dangerous. There is a critical need to know more about the biology, behavior, and ecology of mountain lions, and governments should base decisions upon truthful science, valid data, and the highest common good. Conserving critical lion habitat is essential.

Together, we can save America's lion.

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