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Opinion
Text: The editorial voice of the Mountain Lion Foundation.

11/8/2012

Something is Rotten in the State of South Dakota

Once again it's proving to be very unsafe to be a mountain lion in South Dakota where the state game agency that should be protecting the species appears to be too ready to accept any excuse to "prove" that the department's actions to reduce the already pitifully small population is justified.

The most recent occurrence happened last Monday night when a resident in the small rural community of Custer supposedly heard a thumping sound coming from his front porch. Upon investigation, the resident claims that he found a young, female, radio-collared lion laying there. Claiming he was worried about his dogs which were running loose in his yard (but apparently unaware of the lion) he grabbed his .22 caliber rifle and promptly shot her. The lion supposedly ran approximately 50 feet before dying.

At first glance, it looks like a clear case of someone defending their family and pets, and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) was quick to claim that the killing was justified because the "bold" lion was "waiting for a good chance at one of the pets."

But the Mountain Lion Foundation has subsequently received some insights and compelling questions from a retired Game Warden with more than 25 years of law enforcement experience. This knowledgeable individual questioned both the lion killer's story and SDGFP's quick acceptance of the killing.

Citing a string of bogus lion attack stories that have circulated the state over the past few years our source noted that the story "appears to be [a] construction of facts rather than reality. This reporting is strongly similar to the other 'justified' cougar shooting stories that have been released by the department, . . ." He went on to pose these interesting questions.

1. "Was there blood on the porch? If not, why not?"

2. "50 feet from the front door? Unless this animal was shot in the head with a .22, she is going to go a lot farther than that before laying down due to feeling sick."

3. "If this guy is just concerned about his dogs, why aren't there dead dogs laying all over the place; either [that] or the cat is up a tree because that is what happens every time Canis domesticus meets Puma concolor."

4. "The news story reports that the dogs were loose in the front yard. ---- [A] cat laying on the porch placidly thumping its tail on the floor of the porch while dogs are running loose in the yard? ---- This "tail thumping" story is, in my not so humble opinion, a fabrication based on African lion video seen on TV. Sorry but I just don't believe this in the least! If this guy shoots the cat on his porch, just laying there at 8:30 at night when all other cougars are out "hunting" how can he not see the radio collar from a short distance away. Wouldn't any "reasonable person" recognize the collar and call GFP? The night time scenario is very suspicious. At what time did this get reported. The next morning? Since the cat has obviously been put up a tree before with the likely aid of dogs, isn't it reasonable to assume than if there are dogs in close proximity to the cougar, it is going to go up a tree to safety to escape the dogs just like it did before being fitted with a radio collar?"

Obviously MLF doesn't know for sure what happened in the little town of Custer, South Dakota last Monday night, but based on past experiences with SDGFP we probably never will. This is the state that not only eradicated its original lion population just over a hundred years ago; but it's also the one that appears to be on its way to effectively doing so again with the upcoming 2013 lion hunt.

Isn't it time South Dakotans stood up and demanded their rights to protect the state's wildlife resources?

Do mountain lions have to be wiped out in South Dakota again before its citizens demand fundamental changes in the way SDGFP and its commission does business?

All we know for sure is that something is VERY rotten in the state of South Dakota!



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