The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department (SDGF&P) recently held a series of public meetings to assist in developing that state's upcoming mountain lion hunting plan. In addition, "input" cards were freely distributed at each of the meetings to anyone who wanted to comment.
One of the issues under discussion was whether or not to allow the hunting of mountain lions for recreational purposes in Custer State Park. Apparently 355 people responded on this issue with (according to SDGF&P) the "vast majority" supporting the concept.
I understand that South Dakota doesn't actually have a lot of people living there. Only 812,383 according to the US Census Bureau, or to put it in perspective, slightly more people live in the entire state of South Dakota than reside within the city limits of San Francisco. But to base a decision such as this on so few people (less than 355) calls into question the validity of SDF&P's whole decision making process.
Parks--any park, National, State, Regional, even City--are suppose to be special places in this country, safe refuges where people can enjoy America's natural resources, where they can hike, swim, ride bikes, etc., and of course interact with wildlife. How does having to share this space with people with guns and packs of hunting dogs enhance this experience?
Maybe it's different in South Dakota. Maybe the concept of hunting lions in a state park is repugnant to me because I grew up in California, and was taught from early childhood that State Parks were almost sacred places.
Whatever the reason, the fact that SDGF&P is even considering the concept clearly demonstrates that despite having the word "Parks" in its title--the South Dakota GAME, FISH, & Parks Department is run by, and for the trophy hunting special interest groups.
If you live in South Dakota, and agree with me, contact SDGF&P and tell them how bad you think this idea really is!
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
523 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501
Parks and Recreation -- ParkInfo@state.sd.us
Custer State Park-- CusterStatePark@state.sd.us
If you don't live in South Dakota, but still want to express your opinion, contact South Dakota's Department of Tourism. South Dakota relies heavily upon tourism dollars. Tell them they won't get any of yours if they allow the hunting of mountain lions in their state parks!
South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development
Office of Tourism
Capitol Lake Plaza
711 East Wells Avenue
c/o 500 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501-5070