Last week, a mountain lion was spotted by a city employee crawling into a crevice near the town of Wall, South Dakota. Spread out over more than two square miles, this small (population 766), rural community is located south of the Black Hills, where mountain lions are prevalent, and is named for its location near the high wall of the Badlands National Park. The Cheyenne River, near the town of Wall, is considered a "lion corridor."
A South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) warden was dispatched to the scene and verified that the lion was hiding in a crevice, and was apparently trying to get even deeper into the hole to escape the inquisitive humans. Because the lion was found within Wall's "city limits" it subsequently received an automatic death sentence based on SDGFP internal guidelines and steps were taken to kill the animal.
When smoke bombs, tossed into the crevice, failed to force the lion out into the open where it could be shot, SDGFP wardens and the city employee used a backhoe to widen the hole. The SDGFP wardens shot and killed the lion once a sufficiently large area was excavated so that the cowering animal could be seen.
The lion, a dispersing sub-adult, around 2-years old and weighing 91 pounds, is the 82nd mountain lion killed in South Dakota since the beginning of the year and the 724th since SDGFP began keeping records in the 1990s.
Despite the fact that most mountain lion experts would discount the potential danger posed by this young, frightened animal, SDGFP's wardens have once again proven themselves willing to make that extra effort to keep South Dakotans safe - even if it is unnecessary.
If you are a South Dakota resident, and disagree with SDGFP's automatic death sentence please contact your legislator and tell them how you feel. And contact SDGFP and demand they change their lion management policy.
Regional Wildlife Manager
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
4130 Adventure Trail
Rapid City, SD 57702